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Knights handled in first games of 2019
January 11, 2019

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Union basketball resumed their 2018-19 season with losses to Aplington-Parkersburg on Friday and Crestwood on Saturday as they started off the new year against quality opponents.

"I was telling the players and coaches it's hard to simulate the pressure a team like A-P with talented athletes," coach Dan Hensing said. "It seemed like everywhere we went on the court, they were there and we couldn't get into our offense."

The Knight kicked off their road game against the Falcons with a notable effort in the first quarter as they held close for a majority of the first eight minutes before A-P pulled away with a three to go up 19-11. A slow second quarter followed as Union managed only two total points to the Falcon's 14 and suddenly found themselves down 33-13.

"We've been struggling, but these last two practices have been good and the players seem to be turning a corner in terms of effort," Hensing said. "It showed in that first quarter, but a lull followed and they were tired. Maybe it's the Christmas slump, but we did play well in spurts."

Union came out with a little fire as they played a tight third quarter 17-14 in favor of A-P, but showing the Knights weren't ready to bow out despite the numbers on the scoreboard. A 20-9 fourth quarter put the Knights away as the home Falcons used their bench to end the NICL matchup.

"I don't like how we came out that second half and we've got to change our attitude," Hensing said. "If we're down 20, we have to think 'let's cut it to 10'. It's something that won't happen overnight, so we have to keep working on it."

Silver Schmitz led the Knights in scoring with 16 points to go along with four rebounds. Bryce Parker tallied seven points and four rebounds, Carter Asmussen six points and six rebounds, and Keegan Block had five points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals as his minutes have steadily increased this season.

"Keegan is very talented," Hensing said. "I thought of him as an offensive player, but now he's playing good defense and just getting better and better as the season goes on."

"Starting is such a weird thing and everyone wants to start," Hensing said. "I get it's important to them, but I want to reward the kids that are playing really hard."

The Knights are 1-7 on the season and have seen a majority of their NICL East opponents. While Hensing feels the team isn't handling the records well, he also believes they are beginning to turn the corner.

"I'm seeing improvement, but I want to see it faster," Hensing said. "Everyone wants to improve faster."

The Knights next took on the Crestwood Cadets in a neutral court game at Wartburg college on Saturday, Jan. 5, falling 57-25 after scraping together a narrow 6-4 lead in the first quarter. In each of the quarters, Union was held to single digit scores as the Cadets trapped on defense and moved the ball efficiently on offense for good looks near the basket and shots outside. Schmitz again led in in scoring with six points, followed by Caleb Reel with five points. Union returned to conference play as they hosted Denver on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Photos from the A-P game are available at www.flickr.com/photos/151817931@N05/albums/72157675328047487

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