Union Local’s second half overtakes Panthers

RAYLAND – The Union Local boys basketball team, ranked atop the latest Associated Press Division III poll as the lone unbeaten, rolled into southern Jefferson County looking to keep its lofty ranking and unblemished mark intact.

However, homestanding Buckeye Local, coming off a game in which it blew a 17-point halftime lead 24 hours earlier in a loss to Edison, had different thoughts.

But, like in Wednesday night’s setback, the Panthers (4-11) couldn’t keep up the pace as the Jets (15-0) overcame a one-point halftime deficit and soared to a 71-50 decision in Buckeye 8 action.

“We really didn’t tell the kids anything at halftime,” Union Local head coach Ben Porter said. “We just kind of re-grouped. I thought we had to pick up the defensive intensity there in the second half, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”

Senior Eric Dunfee’s three-point basket 57 seconds into the second half erased a 30-29 deficit and Union Local never looked back as it outscored Buckeye Local, 24-7 in the period, including a 14-1 run to end the period.

Sophomore David Paulick tallied half of those markers, while sophomore point guard Kaleb McDiffitt added five points and numerous hustle plays.

McDiffitt buried a trey and dished off to Tipton for another bonus bomb that jump-started the game-deciding run and prompted Buckeye Local first-year head coach Greg Haberfield to call a timeout.

“We came out strong again tonight in the first half, but I think they wore us down in the second half,” Haberfield said. “I think we played with a lot of adrenaline in the first half. We just ran out of it.”

The timeout by Haberfield didn’t stem the tide as the Jets scored the final four points of the third and began the fourth quarter on a spurt to seal the deal.

Once again, Union Local had a well-rounded scoring attack led by the 6-4 Paulick’s season-high 19. He also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots.

“I thought David played really well tonight and the kids found him when he was open,” Porter noted. “He was very active inside.”

Joining him in double digits were the trio of Tipton (13), Gavin Porter (11) and McDiffitt (10). Colton McKivitz finished with eight.

Jonathon Borkoski led Buckeye Local with 18 points, two more than teammate Brennan Czuchran. Czuchran pulled down 11 boards, which was one more than Borkoski.

“We’re getting better,” Haberfield said. “We’re getting there.”

Union Local has no time to rest as Martins Ferry visits Morristown tonight. Buckeye Local hosts Harrison Central tonight, as well.

Union Local 71, Buckeye Local 50

UNION LOCAL: McDiffitt 3 3-5 10; Porter 2 5-6 11; Dunfee 2 0-2 5; T. Tipton 5 0-0 13; McKivitz 3 2-2 8; C. Tipton 0 0-0 0; Paulick 7 5-5 19; Turner 1 0-0 2; Causby 0 2-2 2; Ware 0 1-2 1; Burnheimer 0 0-0 0; Goodson 0 0-0 0; Groves 0 0-0 0; Abboud 0 0-0 0; Totals: 23-48 18-24 71. 3-pointers: T. Tipton 3, Porter 2, McDiffitt, Dunfee.

BUCKEYE LOCAL: Czuchran 6 3-3 16; Donahue 2 0-0 5; Borkoski 6 2-6 18; Moffo 0 0-0 0; Beall 0 0-0 0; Dokes 4 0-0 8; Pyciak 0 0-0 0; Bobo 0 0-0 0; Savage 0 0-0 0; Faulkner 0 0-0 0; Dehnart 1 1-1 3; Moore 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19-63 6-10 50. 3-pointers: Borkoski 4, Czuchran, Donahue.