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Williston knocks Union out of playoffs

Daquan Edwards shoots a three-pointer.

Daquan Edwards shoots a three-pointer.


BY DAN HILDEBRAN

Monitor Editor

Williston High School ended Union County’s basketball season Feb. 7 with a 47-40 win over the Tigers in a District 7-1A Semifinal game in Lake Butler.

Williston coach Steve Faulkner described the foul and turnover-filled contest as ugly basketball.

“It was ugly,” he said after the game.  “Good thing we built a 12-point lead.  I felt like we just kind of held on.  They made a great run on us in the second half, made a bunch of threes. I wish we would have made a few more free throws. We just gutted that one out.”

The Red Devils started the game with a 5-0 run, but Union County fought back, taking an 8-7 lead midway through the first quarter when Geordyn Green sank two free throws after being fouled on a fast break.

Williston opened up a three point lead by the end of the first quarter and pushed its advantage to 31-20 at the half.

Throughout most of the game, the Red Devils used a full-court press.  The Tigers routinely broke the press, only to later turn the ball over under their own basket.

Union County coach Rufus Jefferson said his team could not settle into its half-court game.

“I tried to get the guys to settle down,” he said.   “It was more like we were out there running track than playing basketball.”

Jefferson added that a lack of movement on offense contributed to the team’s 13 turnovers.

“We were throwing the basketball around a lot more than we were moving our feet,” he said.

Faulkner said the press offset his own team’s shortcomings.

“We kept turning it over in the second half but our press had them turning it over right back,’ he said.

The Red Devils extended its lead to 35-23 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.  However, momentum appeared to shift to the Tigers after Williston’s Earl Brown was called for a technical for hanging onto the rim after a dunk.

Union’s Kyle Mosher made one of two free throws after the technical.  Austin Dukes followed with a field goal and Daquan Edwards sank two free throws to close Williston’s lead to 37-33 with 6:58 left in the game.

From the beginning of the fourth quarter until the 2:26 mark, neither team scored a field goal.  They instead traded fouls, travelling violations and turnovers.

“The game, from midway in the third through midway in the fourth was extremely ugly on both sides,” recalled Faulkner after the game.

Mosher broke the drought with a three-pointer, bringing the Tigers to within three.  With two-and-a-half minutes in the game, Williston led 39-36.

The Red Devils then went on a 8-4 run to close out the game, capitalizing on missed 3-pointers from Union and Tiger fouls, made to stop the clock.

Green gave the Tigers their final boost, sinking a three-point shot with 19.8 seconds left.

Jefferson said the Tigers’ shooting percentage of 34 percent was the biggest factor in his team’s loss.

“We picked the wrong night to be off,” he said.  “I think we only shot like 12 for 35.  We usually shoot a lot better than that. “

Jefferson said part of his team’s lack of production rested with key players he had to bench because of foul trouble.  Leading scorer Mosher spent much of game on the bench with four fouls as did Geordyn Green.    Daron Alexander also had four fouls and Austin Dukes fouled out with 5:44 left in the game.

“When you’ve got your leading scorer sitting on the bench for maybe seven, eight minutes, that takes a toll,” Jefferson said.

He also blamed poor passing for the Tigers’ turnovers.

“Out of the 13 turnovers we had, they may have stolen the ball maybe four or five times.”

“I am very proud of my guys,” he added.  “Although we did not shoot very well, I am proud of the hustle.”

Austin Dukes passes to a teammate.

Austin Dukes passes to a teammate.

Geordyn Green sets up the Tiger offense.

Geordyn Green sets up the Tiger offense.

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