UNION – Sometimes the knockout punch can be delivered early.
That means the team that delivers the initial blow must follow through the rest of the game in order for it to stand up.
After opening with a dramatic, double-overtime triumph two days ago the host Union Farmers didn’t want to have anything to do with playing more than 32 minutes this time.
Four different players scored to give Union a quick double-digit lead. Nine players in all scored for the Farmers, including the game’s high-scorer, who came off the bench.
“This was a team effort,” Union junior Jakin Edmond said. “We tried to get everyone touches.”
Union never trailed in posting a convincing 67-54 win over Columbia in Saturday’s Union County vs. Essex County boys’ basketball matchup at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium.
Union is now off to a 2-0 start after getting out to a 10-0 lead against Columbia before the Cougars reached the scoreboard with just 3:53 to go in the first quarter.
Union spread the ball around and controlled the boards for the most part. Then when it seemed like Columbia was making a comeback there was senior shooting guard Andrew Sanborn preventing the Cougars from getting any closer.
Sanborn, off the bench, led all scorers with 23 points. He connected on seven-of-11 three-point field goal attempts, including back-to-back long-ranger jumpers that extended Union’s lead to 49-35 toward the end of the third quarter.
“He was hot,” said Edmond, who was Union’s next high scorer with 14 points.
Sanborn proved that if you don’t get a hand in his face and he is on, he will make you pay from beyond the three-point line.
“I got out early this morning because my shooting was just okay Thursday,” Sanborn said. “I felt good. We played really well as a team.”
An inside basket and then a jumper by Union freshman Malachi Johnson put the Farmers up for good at 4-0. Edmond and sophomore center Emekah Iloh then scored inside and Edmond again to make it 10-0.
An inside basket by junior Chris Darcelin finally put Columbia on the scoreboard.
The Cougars did well to pull to within 13-9 on a layup by sophomore Andrew Rowley, who finished with 13 points. Columbia junior center Josiah Lawful scored inside to make it 16-13 before Johnson ended the first quarter with a three-pointer to put Union back up by six at 19-13.
Lawful also finished with 13 points.
After Sanborn’s third three-pointer gave Union a 32-16 advantage, Columbia closed the second quarter on an 8-5 run to get the game to 37-24 at intermission.
An inside basket by Lawful made the score 37-30 early in the third quarter as the Cougars produced an 11-0 run that bridged the second and third periods.
Columbia was able to pull to within single digits just one other time, that coming early in the fourth quarter on a free throw by Darcelin that made the score 52-43.
Union answered with an inside basket by Edmond, a layup by junior Gavin Barrett and Sanborn’s final three-pointer, which from the right side hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
“It feels good (to be 2-0) right now,” Edmond said. “We can’t take anything for granted. We have the whole season to try to keep this up.”
After competing in the Matawan Holiday Tournament the Farmers will be back home on Jan. 3 to host Scotch Plains in Union County Conference-Mountain Division play.
The win was the 105th for Union’s ninth-year head coach Kevin Feeley (105-104).
Nigel Garcia paced Columbia with a fine 17-point effort that included a team-high three three-pointers. He scored seven points in the first half and 10 in the second.
UNION COUNTY VS. ESSEX COUNTY
BOYS’ BASKETBALL MATCHUP
Columbia (1-1) 13 11 15 15 – 54
Union (2-0) 19 18 13 17 – 67
COLUMBIA COUGARS (54):
30-Andrew Rowley, sophomore, 3-0-7-13
13-Nigel Garcia, junior, 3-3-2-17
20-Josiah Lawful, junior, 6-0-1-13
1-Jalen Robinson, freshman, 0-2-0-6
3-Chris Darcelin, junior, 2-0-1-5
2-Ben Fisher, junior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Robinson, Fisher,
Darcelin, Lawful, Rowley.
UNION FARMERS (67):
0-Stanley Joseph, junior, 1-1-0-5
2-Emekah Iloh, sophomore, 4-0-1-9
23-Jakin Edmond, junior, 6-0-2-14
22-Korey Thomas, junior, 1-0-0-2
11-Andrew Sanborn, senior, 1-7-0-23
4-Gavin Barrett, junior, 1-0-0-2
15-Malachi Johnson, freshman, 2-1-1-8
13-Ronn Flood, junior, 1-0-0-2
1-Markeith Hinnant, senior, 1-0-0-2
Starters: Hinnant, Iloh,
Johnson, Flood, Edmond.