UNION – In order to get an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the state the Union Farmers will have to find a way to get past one of the best teams in the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division.
That team is Plainfield.
Union, the ninth seed, will play at Plainfield, the eighth seed, Wednesday, Feb. 19 in a second round boys basketball Union County Tournament contest.
The winner will take on top-seeded Patrick School of Elizabeth in next Saturday’s, Feb. 22, quarterfinals.
Both teams won at home convincingly Saturday in first round play, Union trimming 16th-seeded Hillside 72-53 and Plainfield ousting 17th-seeded Sinai Christian 70-50.
Union improved to 12-9, while Plainfield saw its record move forward to 12-8.
In UCC-Mountain Division play, Union edged Plainfield 73-72 in double overtime in the season-opener for both back on Dec. 19 in St. Jude Classic action at UHS. When the teams clashed in Plainfield on Feb. 4, the home team Cardinals came out on top 62-36.
“We didn’t play with a lot of energy the last time we faced Plainfield,” said guard Markeith Hinnant, who was one of three Union players, along with Andrew Sanborn and Nnaemeka Nkulme, who were honored Saturday on Union Seniors Day. “We had a lot of energy today and we’ll need that same kind of energy when we play Plainfield again.”
Hinnant scored 12 points, Sanborn 11 and Nkulme nine in Saturday’s triumph over the visiting Comets, who will next look to have success as the third seed in next month’s Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs. Hinnant and Sanborn each connected on one three-pointer.
Union led from start to finish and held Hillside to less than 10 points in the first and third quarters.
Union’s leading scorer was freshman guard Malachi Johnson with 16 points, 10 of them coming from the free throw line.
Leading all scorers was Hillside senior guard Kalleem Lambert with a fine, 23-point performance that included three three-pointers. Kareem Irby also made three threes for the Comets and finished with 13 points.
BOYS BASKETBALL UCT FIRST ROUND GAME
16-Hillside (18-6) 09 15 04 25 – 53
9-Union (12-9) 14 16 15 27 – 72
16-HILLSIDE COMETS (53):
0-Jaheim Lewis, junior, 0-1-4-7
2-Kalleem Lambert, senior, 3-3-8-23
3-Ivon Bennett, senior, 2-0-1-5
4-Kareem Irby, junior, 1-3-2-13
5-Yasir Holley, senior, 0-0-1-1
1-Joseph Hinton, senior, 1-0-0-2
14-Earl Morton, sophomore, senior, 1-0-0-2
15-Jakhye McLean, sophomore, 0-0-0-0
12-Gavin Melendez, senior, 0-0-0-0
23-Kamaal Cox, senior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Irby, Holley,
Lambert, Lewis, Bennett.
9-UNION FARMERS (72):
11-Andrew Sanborn, senior, 4-1-0-11
13-Ron Flood, junior, 1-0-4-6
15-Malachi Johnson, freshman, 3-0-10-16
24-Nnaemeka Nkulme, senior, 4-0-1-9
1-Markeith Hinnant, senior, 4-1-1-12
2-Emekah Iloh, sophomore, 3-0-4-10
23-Jakin Edmond, junior, 4-0-0-8
4-Gavin Barrett, junior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Hinnant, Sanborn,
Nkulme, Johnson, Flood.