Garnet Valley defeats Unionville, 83-62
12/13/2016 12:08PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
As it headed into its second game of this year's Unionville Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 10, the Unionville Indians had a pre-game goal: to hold Austin Laughlin and Brandon Starr, the top two scorers for Garnet Valley, to a combined 30 points.
By halftime of Unionville's eventual 83-62 loss to Garnet Valley, Laughlin and Starr had combined for 32 points, in a game that would eventually net them 32 points, apiece.
"We played [Garnet Valley] a lot in the off-season in very close games, and we knew that those two were their main players," Inidan head coach Joe Kilpatrick said. "We played zone a few times, went to a 1-3-1 defense, back to a 3-2 zone, and even tried man-to-man [defense]."
Laughlin, coming off of a 28-point performance in a win against Kennett in the opening game of the tournament on Dec. 9, hit three three-pointers en route to a 13-point first quarter. While Laughlin was held to just two points in the second quarter, Starr took over the scoring mantle for the Jaguars, connecting on a three-point shot, a two-pointer and making seven of eight free throw tries on his way to a 12-point quarter.
Throughout the first half, the Indians battled their way through Garnet Valley's flex offense, and occasionally shut it down, while orchestrating a ball control offense that featured perimeter passing and pick-and-roll options. Down 27-21 at the end of the first quarter, the Indians got to within two early in the second on baskets by Zeb Martelli and Scotti Miller. A three-pointer by Bo Furey-Bastian with 4:10 left in the half cut the Jaguars' lead to 31-30, which was followed by an aggressive, on-the-floor scramble and ball possession by Shawn Rafferty that momentarily disrupted Laughlin and Starr's rhythm.
"I think overall we did not communicate well on defense," Kilpatrick said. "There were a few possessions when we defended well, but you can't defend two or three possessions in a half. You have to defend all of them."
With just seconds left in the first half, Wyatt Hockenberry nailed a three-pointer that brought Unionville to within five points of Garnet Valley. Hockenberry's shot and the slim differential between the two teams indicated that were the Indians able to hold Laughlin and Starr down in the second half while finding a hot hand of their own, they could win the game.
Yet as the third quarter got underway, Laughlin and Starr exploded, scoring all 23 points for the Jaguars and extending Garnet Valley's lead to 64-44 at the start of the fourth quarter, while holding Unionville to just eight points. By the time Garnet Valley head coach Michael Brown emptied his bench with 3:25 left in the game, his team had opened up a 76-59 lead.
Furey-Bastian led all Unionville scorers with 12 points.
In spite of the two losses his team endured this past weekend -- which also included a 68-61 loss to Downgingtown East on Dec. 9 -- Kilpatrick looked at the tournament as a harbinger of positives to come this season, particularly when the Indians are on offense.
"Our philosophy and motto is to pass up an okay shot in order to create a great shot," said Kilpatrick, whose team is coming off a 9-13 season in 2015-16. "That's what we're trying to preach here. We have a young group with a lot of sophomores, and they're scoring points.
"The fact that we reached the 60s in each game has been encouraging. We've also played two of our toughest opponents. These two teams are really good, and this will prepare us for our Ches-Mont league games."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail email@example.com.