UNION, NJ — At times, the Union High School boys basketball team might resemble the winter track squad, with its end-to-end frenzied pace.
A lack of size could be overcome by a desire to outrun the competition.
That is how the Farmers will attack their foes this season.
“We will play more of an up-tempo game because of all of our guards,” 12th-year head coach Kevin Feeley said. “We’ll fly around a bit and use our quickness to make our lack of size not a disadvantage.”
Union, which opens its season on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Westfield High School, has three returning starters, all senior guards. They are Michael Roseberry at the point, Riley Flood and Kameron McGainey.
All three started for the first time a year ago. Flood is back to 100 percent after dealing with an ankle injury last season.
Roseberry will look to put opposing defenses on their heels.
“Mike is tough, makes plays other players don’t and sees the floor well,” Feeley said of his point guard. “He’s also strong at the rim. He’ll have a little more freedom this year.”
Flood’s biggest asset is his athleticism.
“He’s extremely explosive,” Feeley said. “He can score at all levels for us, whether it’s from long range with his threes, inside or jumpers. He’s improved tremendously.”
McGainey thrives on constant defensive pressure, making ball handlers as uncomfortable as they can possibly be.
“He’s an outstanding on-ball defender,” Feeley said. “We’ll look for him to put immediate pressure on whoever is bringing up the ball against us. He can also score.”
Other players in the mix include senior guards Ralph Brucal and Elijah Blackwell; senior Oladipo Odusanya; juniors Koran Swinney, Kasie McDowell and Bradley Emilzo; and sophomores Omalley King, who is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and Bobby Bonds, who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall.
Brucal scored 92 points last year. King, the Union football team’s quarterback, and Bonds played on the freshmen team last year and, according to Feeley, “made great strides in the offseason.”
Union went 8-13 last year, including 1-10 in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division. The Farmers lost to Westfield in the Union County Tournament quarterfinals and did not qualify for the North 2, Group 4 playoffs.
Getting back to the state playoffs is among the team’s top goals.
Notes: The heavy rainfall of Tropical Storm Ida in September 2021 knocked out Union’s gymnasium a year ago, resulting in the Farmers playing a whole season on the road.
“We’re really looking forward to playing in our own gym again,” Feeley said.
It will take a bit of time, but Union is scheduled to play its home opener at Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium on Friday, Dec. 30, against Pope John XXIII Regional High School of Sparta after beginning with games at Union County foes Westfield, Elizabeth, Linden and Plainfield high schools before Christmas, Sunday, Dec. 25, and then at Somerset County opponent Franklin High School two days later.
Instead of playing in any kind of holiday tournament, Union will play at Franklin on Tuesday, Dec. 27, and host Pope John XXIII Regional on Friday, Dec. 30.
Union is scheduled to begin January with a game at Rahway High School on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
In two months, it will be the 10th anniversary of, perhaps, the biggest upset in UCT history. Union came back in the fourth quarter to absolutely shock heavily favored and top-seeded Roselle Catholic High School, 64-63, in a UCT quarterfinal played that night at Arthur L. Johnson High School’s Louis J. Peragallo Gymnasium in Clark.
Driving through the lane and to the hoop to make the winning basket with just one second left was senior guard Erick Lofton-Harris. He is now in his first year as Union’s junior varsity head coach.
“Erick went on to play at Montclair State and finished at Rutgers Newark,” Feeley said. “He also coached at Kean.”
Union will close with 11 of its last 12 games at home. The Farmers will face Summit High School at Kean University on Sunday, Jan. 15, and host Hudson County schools Lincoln High School on Monday, Jan. 23, and Henry Snyder High School on Thursday, Jan. 28.
2022-2023 Union Farmers schedule
• Thursday, Dec. 15: at Westfield High School, 4 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 17: at Elizabeth High School, 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 20: at Linden High School, 7 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 22: at Plainfield High School, 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 27: at Franklin High School, 1 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 30: vs. Pope John XXIII Regional High School, 11 a.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 3: at Rahway High School, 7 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 5: vs. Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School, 4 p.m.
• Monday, Jan. 9: vs. Union Catholic High School, 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 10: vs. Westfield High School, 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 12: vs. Elizabeth High School, 4 p.m.
• Sunday, Jan. 15: vs. Summit High School at Kean University, 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 17: vs. Linden High School, 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 19: vs. Plainfield High School, 4 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 21: vs. Essex County West Caldwell Tech High School, 11:30 a.m.
• Monday, Jan. 23: vs. Lincoln High School, 4:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 28: vs. Snyder High School, 11:30 a.m.
• Wednesday, Feb. 1: at Union Catholic High School, 7 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 3: vs. Cranford High School, 4 p.m.
Photos Courtesy of Kevin Feeley