Union boys’ basketball bounces back to defeat Plainfield and Union Catholic the 2nd time around; Farmers will attempt to do the same vs. Westfield at home on Jan. 31

The goal of a basketball team that did not return any starters is one of progression.
Let’s start from scratch and see just how better we can get as the days, weeks and months march on.
That was the scenario the Union boys’ were faced with this season.
One of four teams situated in the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division, the Farmers lost to the other three the first time they played them.
Union’s overall record was 4-9 and its Mountain Division mark was 0-4 following a third straight setback on Jan. 17.
Since then Union has turned its season around a bit, producing a first-time, three-game winning streak. The last two wins came over teams Union lost to the first time they clashed.
After losing at Watchung Division squad Plainfield 63-60 on the road Jan. 7, the Farmers bounced back to best the Cardinals 51-38 at home on Tuesday.
Two days later also at home Union produced – perhaps – its biggest win of the year, downing Union Catholic 67-57.
“Union Catholic was ranked early this year and they beat some good teams,” Union head coach Kevin Feeley said.
In Scotch Plains on Jan. 17, Union was turned back by the Vikings 68-59.
“The first game we were ahead 45-40 with two-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter,” Feeley said. “They pressed us and we didn’t handle it well.
“We turned the ball over on six of seven possessions and then before we knew it we were down by three points at the end of the third quarter.”
The Farmers needed to go back to the drawing board to learn how to handle a press effectively.
“We spent time working on pressure break and all of our press breaks,” Feeley said. “The second game their game plan was to pressure us from the start. We made a mistake early, but settled down.”
Double-digit scoring was received from seniors Ryan Dolce, 18, Justin Beckett, 15, and Cory Thelisme. Fellow senior Jon Green was praised by Feeley for his defensive effort against Union Catholic 6-10 senior Jordan Pierce.
“Our kids did a wonderful job of making the right decisions and attacking and scoring off their press as the game went on,” Feeley said. “We also shot pretty well from the floor.”
Union got out to a 24-13 lead after the first eight minutes and led 39-21 at intermission. The Farmers, playing in man-to-man defense for most of the game, held off Union Catholic in the second quarter despite the Vikings winning both the third and fourth quarters.
“Jon Green did a great job against Pierce,” Feeley said.
Union’s first two division losses were to leader St. Mary’s of Elizabeth. The Farmers then lost to division rivals Westfield and Union Catholic the first time around, in addition to Watchung foe Plainfield.
So far the only team Union did not defeat after it lost to it was St. Mary’s.
The Farmers will attempt to split with Westfield in Mountain Division play this Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 4 p.m. at home.
Union fell at Westfield 60-56 on Jan. 12.
“We defeated Plainfield and Union Catholic back to back, which were good wins,” Feeley said.
Union’s resume also includes a 69-58 victory at Columbia..
“We’ll next try to beat Westfield after losing to them,” Feeley said. “The first game at their place was a good game. They made a few more plays than we did.
“It was an enjoyable high school game.”