ABINGDON, Va. – The battle of the big men was called off Thursday night, but six-foot-six Union senior Bradley Bunch still earned another knockout.
With 7-foot Abingdon junior Evan Ramsey sidelined by an ankle issue, Bunch delivered 30 points and nine rebounds to guide the Union Bears to a 63-42 win over the Falcons in a Mountain 7 District showdown.
“It was a touch matchup with [Ramsey] last season, so I was excited to play him again,” Bunch said.
After a week of drills and film work to prepare, when did the Bears find out that the long-armed Ramsey would be on the bench?
“At game time,” Bunch said. “We still stuck to our game plan.”
Abingdon coach Aaron Williams explained that Ramsey is awaiting results on a CT scan to his ankle. Ramsey did not play in the recent Arby’s Classic due to an illness
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“Evan has an abnormality on his right ankle,” Williams said. “He was able to play Tuesday, but then he went in and got the ankle checked out.”
Williams said he was unsure when Ramsey will return to the lineup.
Union (6-3, 2-0) grabbed a 9-0 lead behind as Bunch connected on a pair of mid-range jumpers
“And then we struggled to score the rest of the game,” Union coach Zack Moore “We got about any shot we wanted in the paint, but we just couldn’t finish.”
Controlling the boards, the Bears led 35-18 at halftime and 38-19 at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter. Moore wanted more execution.
“I don’t think we played very well at all,” Moore said. “Abingdon is tough, and we prepared the past couple days for their zone and for Ramsey in the middle. When I told my guys that Ramsey wasn’t playing, it changes your mindset.”
Abingdon began the game with just eight available players, and that number declined to six in the final minutes remaining in the game when two regulars were lost to fouls.
Dayton Osborne, Abingdon’s efficient 6-3 junior forward, battled foul issues for much of the night before fouling out at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
“We essentially played the game without our two leading scorers,” Williams said. “We were really counting on Dayton for points, and he just can’t get in foul trouble like that.
It was a frustrating night for Williams, who was forced to leave the floor after earning his second technical foul late in the first half.
“Just fighting for our team. That’s what coaches do,” Williams said.
Five-foot-11 senior guard James Whitted paced Abingdon with 15 points and four rebounds, while 6-foot freshman guard Luke Honaker added 13
“Foul trouble hurt us and we’ve still got to cut down on our turnovers, but I’m seeing some progress with our perimeter play,” Williams said. “[Honaker] is coming along, and James had a good game.
“We just didn’t close the possessions tonight, and Union went to the boards hard for offensive rebounds. We need to do a better job on the boards.”
Senior Caiden Bartee contributed 17-points and lockdown defense for the Bears. The 6-1 guard was especially effect when AHS (7-5, 3-1) closed within 47-36 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
“Caiden saves us there,” Moore said. “We just had to gut things out.”
Bunch connected on 10 of his 23 field attempts.
“It wasn’t a great way to get 30 points, but getting the win was the main thing,” Bunch said. “We didn’t shoot or finish well. It was an ugly win, but you have nights like this.”
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