ATHENS, Ohio -- Berne Union left everything out on the floor in a gritty performance in the Division IV regional semifinal at Ohio University, unfortunately they could not recover from an excruciating second quarter. Despite their best efforts, the Rockets fall just shy of the regional final, losing to New Boston Glenwood 69-64.
The Rockets were clicking on all cylinders early in the first half without their leading scorer making much of an impact. Berne Union's forwards and bigs had a clear size advantage in the game, resulting in a huge first quarter from seniors Zane Mirgon and Baron Sullivan, who combined for over half of their first quarter points.
Chase McCartney was also phenomenal early on as a playmaker, regularly getting into the lane and finding open teammates on the weakside for easy looks.
Later on in the quarter, we did see Berne Union shift to a peculiar defensive system where they face guarded New Boston’s Marcus Sanders and Tyler Caldwell. The idea of this decision was to take out their two best players, but by making it a three-on-three game you have to be outstanding team defenders for the significant spacing gained, which the Rockets struggled with.
Electing to stay with this defense the rest of the half, Berne Union consistently gave up open shots from the outside and New Boston Glenwood drained six three pointers in the second quarter. After leading 25-16 at the end of the first, the Rockets went into the locker room down 41-33, as they were outscored 25-8 in this quarter.
Berne Union responded to even more adversity in the third, where they came out in a straight man to man defense and had significantly greater success after the first few minutes in the beginning of the second half where their off ball defensive woes continued.
Starting to see the game slip away, Levi Ross hit a pair of timely three pointers and then Mirgon hit one himself in order to keep their team in the game. As Berne Union trailed 54-49 heading into the final frame, they could have forced a ton of turnovers from New Boston’s primary handler, but were not equipped with a lethal point of attack defender to carry that out.
The Rockets appeared to be in trouble early in the final quarter after falling down by 10 at 59-49 with five minutes left. However, they did not give up as senior Jacob Harmon finished at the rim and then McCartney pinpointed a beautiful pass off a baseline out of bounds set to sophomore Brock Unger for a layup.
This quickly cut the lead down to six with about four minutes left. After trading a pair of buckets, Berne Union trailed 61-55 with a little more than four minutes left.
New Boston Glenwood gave the Rockets a ton of chances to get back into the game with free throw struggles. Berne Union was able to cut their deficit down to three points, but unfortunately never regained the lead, trailing ever since New Boston Glenwood’s 12-0 run in the final two minutes of the first half.
Berne Union, who just three days ago, won its first-ever district title falls in the program's first regional tournament. The Rockets return McCartney and Unger, who are a promising underclassmen duo that should help Berne Union continue to compete among the elite in Division IV.