Union Rallies From Nine Down at Halftime to Knock off C-L


STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (D9Sports) – It was a tale of two halves Monday night for the Union and Clarion-Limestone girls’ basketball team.

(Photo: Union’s Frankee Remmick, who was the Hager Paving Player of the Game)

The Lady Lions, trying to pick up their first win of the season, came out on fire at home and built a 25-16 halftime lead.

But the second half belonged to the visitors from Rimersburg, who rallied behind the play of Frankee Remmick and Hannah Atzeni to come from behind and grab a 44-38 win.

“This was definitely a must win for us to get to the playoffs,” Remmick, who had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, including 13 points after halftime and was named the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said.

There was nothing in the first half from either team that would have had anyone in the crowd at C-L or listening to the game thinking the Golden Damsels were going to pull off the comeback.

Union shot just 6 of 26 in the half and turned the ball over 12 times while having no answer for C-L’s Morgan Clark, who scored 14 of her career-high 20 points in the opening 16 minutes.

“After the first half, I was really disappointed,” Union’s first-year head coach Ally Kepple said. “I was disappointed because we talked about how we had to come out and play our game even though it was their home court. And I did not think we did a very good job of that in the first half. We were really slow. There wasn’t a whole lot to say (at halftime).”

While Kepple didn’t say much at the break, the Union players realized their coaches silence meant they needed to step their game up in the second half.

“We talked about it before she came in (to the locker room at halftime),” Remmick said. “We just needed to get more boards and work as a team more. And that is what we did. When she came in, there really were no words from her. But we definitely pulled it together as a team.”

Listen to more from Remmick.

One of the things Kepple did stress to her team at the break was that they needed to move the ball better and play stronger defense.

“We talked about ball movement,” Kepple said. “We had to be a lot quicker. Our post couldn’t do anything inside (in the first half) because our guards were moving the ball too slow. We needed quicker ball movement, and, because our outside shots weren’t falling, we needed to take it to the hole.”

Union wasted little time after halftime getting back into the game scoring the first 10 points of the half, including six from Remmick, to take its first lead since 3-2 at 26-25 on a Marli Hawk jumper off an Atzeni pass with 3:16 to play in the third quarter. It was the sixth point of the half off turnovers for Union.

“At halftime, I basically told the girls this is nothing nothing. We have to come out and be fired up,” C-L head coach Gus Simpson said. “You have a lot more to prove. It seemed like they got a quick bucket and it was almost like here we go, same old same old. It took us a little bit to snap out of it. By the time we did, it was just too late.”

Two free throws by Jess Ball gave C-L the lead back briefly, 27-26, with 2:42 left in the third, but Remmick tied the game with a charity shot at the 1:48 mark and Atzeni gave the Golden Damsels the lead for good with a bucket with 2.8 seconds left, 29-27.

Union then continued the run, it got to 18-2 by the time it was finished, at the start of the fourth quarter on baskets by Atenzi, who finished with 11 points, including nine in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter, and Drew Davis and a free throw by Remmick that pushed the lead to seven, 34-27.

C-L was able to regain its equilibrium some and cut the lead to four points on a few different occasions including 34-31 on an offensive putback by Clark, who had a double-double by adding a game-high 13 rebounds, and again at 37-33 on another offensive rebound by Clark and finally at 39-35 on a runner by Anna Kennemuth with 1:49 to play.

But after the Kennemuth basket, Union hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 1:27 including 3 of 4 from Atzeni to secure the victory.

“Who wanted it, we did,” Kepple said. “I think sometimes they get into this mindset that once they are down it is really hard to get back. And it is. It’s tough. But it takes a little bit of heart to be a little bit tough and finish things.”

CHRIS’ THOUGHTS

1. Union changed defenses on Clark and that was a big part of the comeback.

In the first half, C-L was getting the ball to Clark almost at will, and the junior, who has scored in double digits in four of her last six games, was finishing with four first-quarter baskets and three more in the second quarter.

But after halftime, Union changed up and started doubling the C-L big girl.

“I played in front of her some more (in the second half),” Remmick said. “We had more help from behind. So, it didn’t allow them to lob it over me. That helped a lot.”

Kepple said she told her guards that they needed to stop worrying so much about the C-L guards and start worrying about Clark.

“We talked about doubling down,” Kepple said. “We kind of got caught guarding the guards. I told them, if you are on her side, leave your girl outside. I would rather have her (the guard) make the 3-pointer than to get an easy layup underneath.”

2. C-L played a 1-1-3 defense and it worked for a long time.

The Lady Lions came out in a 1-1-3 defense, not something you see very much of, and it really had a lot to do with Union’s poor first-half shooting.

“I have actually had that (defense) from years past,” Simpson said. “I kind of brought it back because it seemed like nobody wanted to do that. Nobody seems to have a press break for it. It’s a nice momentum changer.”

Kepple said the defense was so effective in part because of the quickness of the C-L guards.

“I think their guards are very good at pressuring,” Kepple said. “Therefore, that gets to be a little rough for us. We don’t see that a whole lot where there is one person up top followed by another person (describing the 1-1-3 zone).”

3. Remmick did a masterful job playing with two fouls.

Remmick, Union’s leading scorer at over 15 points per game, picked up two fouls in the game’s first 1:14. But Kepple rode her senior the rest of the game without much, if any, break, and Remmick rewarded her coach’s faith by picking up just one more foul the rest of the game, and that on a tough call late in the third quarter.

“I just knew I had to play better defense not the junky defense,” Remmick said. “That helped a lot.”

4. Maddy Craig was tenacious on the glass for C-L.

Craig, a junior listed at 5-foot-5, but here is betting she isn’t quite that, was masterful on the boards for the Lady Lions, especially the offensive glass. She had 10 rebounds, five offense, for C-L and also scored six points.

“It has been the way she has been all year long,” Simpson said. “Really, it’s kind of amazing. Maddy just won’t quit. That is always good to see. I hope it becomes contagious.”

5. Union hit free throws when it needed them the most.

Union came up big from the line hitting 11 charity shots in the fourth quarter. And while those came on 17 attempts, the Golden Damsels, as mentioned above, were stellar down the stretch in making five of six. Atzeni went 5 of 8 from the line in the fourth quarter and was a big reason for the win.

“If it wasn’t for her free throws, it would have been a lot closer,” Remmick said.

Kepple said she stresses the importance of the free points every day.

“I tell them all the time, 75 percent of KSAC games, if not more, are won or lost at the free-throw line,” Kepple said. “I have seen so many games so close where you look at the stats for foul shots. We practice those a lot for situations. That was big time for her.”

THE OUTCOME

Union moves to 6-8 on the year and keeps its playoff hopes alive. Although the District 9 playoffs are an open format, most schools have a .500 rule to allow their teams to participate.

C-L continues to search for its first win and falls to 0-12. The Lady Lions have had some tough breaks this season losing twice by a point to Forest Area any by two to Union earlier in the season before this six-point loss Monday night.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Union hosts Cranberry Wednesday before playing six of its final seven games away from home. The Golden Damsels are at Moniteau Friday and travel to play Forest Area at West Forest, Monday, Jan. 29.

C-L is at A-C Valley Wednesday before traveling to rival Clarion Friday (there was some mention of the game possibly being moved to Thursday but nothing has been decided yet). The Lady Lions are then at Moniteau Saturday before hosting Redbank Valley Monday, Jan. 29, and getting a third crack at Forest Area, this time at home, Tuesday, Jan. 30.

UNION 44, CLARION-LIMESTONE 38

Score by Quarters

Union 5 11 13 15 – 44
C-L 17 8 2 11 – 38

UNION – 44

Hannah Atzeni 3 5-8 11, Bryn Davis 1 0-1 3, Marli Hawk 2 0-0 4, Morgan Cumberland 0 2-2 2, Frankee Remmick 6 9-12 22, Drew Davis 1 0-0 2, Caitlyn Buchanan 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 16-23 44.

CLARION-LIMESTONE – 38

Anna Kennemuth 3 1-2 7, Abby Simpson 0 0-0 0, Anna Burns 0 2-4 2, Maddy Craig 2 1-2 6, Morgan Clark 10 0-0 20, Jess Ball 0 3-4 3, Ashley Daugherty 0 0-0 0, Janelle Pezzuti 0 0-2 0, Monica Heath 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 7-12 38.

Three-pointers: Union 2 (Bryn Davis, Remmick). C-L 1 (Craig).

Rebounds: Union – 12 offensive, 20 defensive, 32 total (Remmick 10, Cumberland 7, Drew Davis 5). C-L – 17 offensive, 19 defensive, 36 total (Clark 13, Craig 10).


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