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Knights outlast streaky J-Hawks for 51-48 win
January 23, 2020

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Union boys basketball scored their second win of the season on Thursday, Jan. 16 as the Knights pulled out a close 51-48 victory from Jesup in a back-and-forth contest.

"I have the most respect for Coach Smeins and knew this team would be prepared," coach Dan Hensing said. "We had to outhustle and outplay them to defend our home court."

A slow start greeted the Knights as the J-Hawks took an early 18-10 lead after the first quarter, an issue Hensing has noticed all season long. Union would flip the script and score 18 in the second quarter, holding the J-Hawks to only seven points and taking a 28-25 lead into the locker room.

"When it was 18-10, it felt like we were down by 25 the way we were playing," Hensing said. "We made a nice push into halftime. It was really that second quarter that was the difference in this game. This team has had awful second quarters, but we're starting to figure out the puzzle."

Union outscored the J-Hawks 14-10 in the third quarter to extend their lead going into the final eight minutes, when the J-Hawks struck back to put the game within two. The Knights have dealt with issues of keeping their lead in previous games, yet their composure remained as they kept the lead. A tense 17 seconds saw the J-Hawks miss a three to tie the game and Union held to win their second game of the season.

"If we keep putting ourselves in positions to win, we will start winning," Hensing said. "We broke through tonight and the crowd was into it tonight."

Brayden Grosse led the Knights with 12 points, followed by Devin Reel and Marc Mahood with nine points each and Trevor Davis with eight points in the win. The victory comes after a heartbreaking 74-71 loss at Columbus Catholic on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Despite a season-high in points, the Knights left Waterloo with a sense they missed out on an opportunity for another win.

"It's such a rivalry game and everything that could go wrong happened in the third quarter," Hensing said. "We had a good fight in the first quarter and then played with urgency in the fourth quarter to bring it back from 22. We ran out of gas late and they made their free throws to seal."

The Knights hosted Aplington-Parkersburg on Tuesday and will face Denver on Friday, Jan. 24 before ending a four-game home stand against Benton on Saturday, Jan. 25. Union is currently 2-9 on the season.

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