Catholic Rallies Past Dunellen For Second Straight Year
By Greg Machos
December 20, 2008
DUNELLEN, NJ—For the second straight year, the Vikings of Union Catholic rallied from behind to defeat the Dunellen Destroyers. Last season, on opening weekend, the Vikings, which compete in the Mountain Division of the Mountain Valley Conference, came from behind after trailing 34-29 late in the third quarter to win 53-46 thanks to a 24-12 surge in the fourth quarter. This year, the circumstances were much more dramatic this time.
With the Destroyers leading by a score of 49-38 following a Luke Francisco jumper with 5:29 left in the game, the Vikings, which outscored Dunellen by a 22-12 margin this time in the fourth, rallied with a 20-8 tear capped by a game winning three point play by forward Jamaad Nash with 9.3 seconds to play for a 58-57 victory at the Faber Gymnasium. Nash ended up scoring 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and tabulated his scoring on five field goals, and five foul shots.
Union Catholic, which is based in Scotch Plains, and used to be a member of the Watchung Conference, was led by Dave Herren, who tied for game high with 17 points on six field goals including a three pointer, and four foul shots. Besides Nash, Mike Marciano, whose older brother John played at Seton Hall Prep and Roselle Park before moving on to Dartmouth, chipped in with 10 points on five field goals. The three Vikings accounted for 42 of UC's 58 points, or approximately 72.4 percent of the Viking offense. Rounding out the scoring for Union Catholic were Chaz Carter with 9 points on four field goals and a foul shot, and Zach Dlabik with 7 points on a three pointer, and four free throws.
On the other side of the ledger, Dunellen was led by senior forward, Reggie Thorpe, who equaled Herren for game high with 17 points on seven field goals, and three foul shots before fouling out of the game with less than two minutes remaining in the contest. Nick Francisco, who has physically matured since last season, chipped in with 12 points on three field goals and six foul shots while Rembert Armistad picked up 8 points on two field goals, a three pointer, and a free throw. Jonard Hall helped out with 7 points on two field goals, and three charity shots while Alan-Michael Perryman added 5 points on a field goal and three foul shots. Erick Orellana and Luke Francisco each added 4 points on two field goals.
The game was a nip and tuck affair in the first half with Union Cathlic taking a 9-8 first quarer lead only to have Dunellen rally with a 19-16 showing in the second period to take a 27-25 lead into the intermission. Then, in the third, the Destroyers broadened their advantage with an 18-11 effort to take a 45-36 edge into the fourth, and final period of play. Each team outscored the other in two of the four periods. From the time that GMC Hoops arrived at the Faber towards the end of halftime until the end of the game, there was only one lead change. According to the article written on the game in the Home News-Tribune, free throws proved to the difference.
Despite being aggressive, and getting to the line, the Destroyers didn't cash in much on their efforts with a 14 of 31 showing for 45.2 percent. On the other hand, Union Catholic was slightly better by going 15 of 29 for 51.7 percent, but made them when it counted down the stretch by going 7 of 12 in the fourth while Dunellen was just 2 of 8 over the final 5:35. As mentioned earlier, the stie picked up the action at the start of the third quarter. GMC Hoops decided to add this game on to its schedule on Friday, and after all of the opening night schedule was cancelled due to the winter storm, it was a good idea.
With Dunellen leading by two, the Destroyers then started the second half scoring when Hall passed to Luke Francisco, who then drove in from the right side for a layup, and a 29-25 lead at the 7:48 mark. The Vikings then responded with one of two at the lead at the 7:34 mark to make th escore, 29-26. Perryman then boosted Dunellen's edge to five on a scoop sot for a layup that made the score, 31-26 with 7:08 to go in the third. Things then got perilous for the visitors from Union County as the Vikings almost committed a backcourt violation, but recovered nicely to score on a scoop shot of their own off a drive from the right side for a 31-28 DHS lead at the 6:36 mark.
Forty-four seconds later, Union Catholic then got one of two at the line from Nash to close the gap to 31-29 as the Destroyers head coach, Bernie Buniak called for time moments later at the 5:47 mark. Following the full time out, Hall drove along the baseline on the right side for a layup underneath, and a 33-29 lead at the 5:27 mark. On Union Catholic's next possession, the Vikings turned the ball over on a travelling violation at the 5:03 mark. However, Dunellen couldn't cash in as Marciano blocked a shot by Nick Francisco, and although Hall got the offensive rebound, he ended turning the ball over by travelling himself with 4:51 to go in the third.
Neither team would score for almost a minute until Hall took a pass from Nick Francisco, drove in for a score, and drew a foul that produced two free throws for a six point, 35-29 lead with 3:56 to play in the period. Union Catholic then shot themselves in the foot again by losing the ball out of bounds at the 3:49 mark. On the Destroyers next possession, Thorpe connected on a straight on jumper for a 37-29 advantage at the 3:30 mark. The Vikings would finally put an end to their scoring drought of 2:35, and span of 3:19 without a field goal thanks to a three point play at the 3:17 mark. Nineteen seconds later, the Vikes got a basket and a foul, but missed a chance for its second straight three point play with a missed free throw, and the score stood at 37-34 with 2:58 to go in the frame.
However, Dunellen would stem the tide with a three point play of its own as Thorpe scored a layup, and drew the foul on the Destroyers next possession for the traditional trifecta at the 2:40 mark to make the score, 40-34. A minute would pass before another score came in the form of a Nick Francisco drive through the middle for a floate off glass, and a 42-34 lead at the 1:40 mark. Union Catholic then was called for a technical foul that resulted in one of two at the line by Nick Francisco for a 43-34 lead with 1:26 left in the third. Eight seconds later, the elder Francisco was at the line again, and made one of two once more for a ten point, 44-34 lead.
Seemingly on the ropes, the Vikings made a big play with a steal for a layup at the 41.4 second mark to close the gap to 44-36, and then the Destroyers made a free throw for the 45-36 edge entering the fourth. The start of the fourth saw no scoring by either team until Armistad connected on a field goal as he was fouled, but missed the bonus foul shot for the conventional three point play, and the score stood at 47-36 with 5:35 to play. UCHS then got a score of its own before Luke Francisco took a pass from his brother on the left wing, and sank a jumper for a 49-38 lead as Buniak called time again at the 5:29 mark. Following the timeout, Union Catholic scored five straight points before Nick Francisco again stepped up to the line for a 1-2 showing, and a 50-43 lead with 4:45 left.
The Vikes continued to roar back with seven of the next eleven points to pull within four at 54-50 before Armistad came up with a shot over the outstretched hand of Marciano for a field goal, and a 56-50 lead with about two minutes to play. Moments later though, Thorpe fouled out, and that set the stage for the finale to this UC rally. First, Dunellen again misfired at the line as Perryman missed on both his attempts at the 1:44 mark. Then, Marciano got the ball in the right low post only to kick it back out to the wing for a three pointer, and a 56-53 Destroyer lead at the 1:20 mark. Union Catholic then forced a turnover that led to a layup underneath on the left low block by Nash at the 1:11 mark for a 56-55 score.
On Dunellen's next possession, the Destroyers did a great job of running time of the clock by moving the ball around the floor. Ultimately though, Armistad was fouled at the 34.5 second mark, and only made one of two at the line for a now very tenuous, 57-55 lead. Union Catholic almost blew their chance to tie or take the lead as Marciano missed a shot in the right low block, but the ball went off a Dunellen player with 16.1 seconds remaining. With new life the ball was inbounded by the Vikings, and then it got into the hands of Nash, who first put up a high arching shot off the glass that was no good, but his athletic ability got him the offensive rebound and putback for the score while being fouled for a three point play, and UC's first lead since early on in the game with 9.3 seconds to go. With one final chance Dunellen had a shot, but Nash came up with the block on Perryman as time expired.
With the victory, Union Catholic starts off the season at 1-0 while Dunellen falls to 0-1, and loses its season opener for the second straight season. The Destroyers, which are favored to win the GMC Gold this season, will open Greater Middlesex Conference play on Tuesday night at home against J.F. Kennedy of Iselin. You can view some video highlights from this game by going into the GMC Hoops Blogosphere.
Union Catholic (1-0)
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