After the first quarter of their Saturday afternoon Division IV district semifinal game at Olentangy against third-seeded Berne Union, the Cardington Pirates looked to be in good position to potentially unseat their higher-seeded opponent.
Brock Unger had different plans, though. The junior post player exploded for a 37-point performance in the game, leading the Rockets to a come-from-behind 64-44 win to end Cardington’s season at 10-14.
“We did a pretty good job in the first quarter making sure where he was,” said Cardington coach Nick Withrow of Unger. “He’s a good player. Unfortunately, he’s going to be around for another year.”
Unger was held to six of those 37 in the first quarter — an eight minute stretch in which the Pirates never trailed. With the game tied at 4-4 early, Cayman Spires gave his team the lead with a three-pointer. Then, with the game at 7-5 in favor of Cardington, two baskets by Avery Harper and one from Mason White increased the team’s lead to 13-5. Unger hit a a three-pointer and Jacob Harman followed with two points, but a Spires basket allowed his team to hold a 15-10 lead going into the second.
“In the first quarter, we were real aggressive,” said Withrow. “We got to the rim and played inside-out and that’s who we needed to be.”
The second quarter was a different story. Cardington only got two points on a basket by White with only 41 seconds remaining in the period. That offensive drought allowed Berne Union to surge past the Pirates and take a 24-17 lead going into the break.
“In the second quarter, we settled for mid-range jumpers,” said the coach. “When things were not going our way, I think we did get a little passive and settled for okay shots when we needed to get good shots.”
The team got four points from Trey Brininger in the third quarter, with Harper adding three more. However, Cardington also missed six-of-seven foul shots in the period and trailed 41-28 going into the fourth.
And over those eight minutes, Unger made sure they wouldn’t be able to shoot their way back into the game, going for 19 of his points and hitting three three-pointers in the process.
Cardington was led by White’s nine points. Harper, Brininger and Spires all contributed eight, as eight Pirates players got on the scoreboard in the game.
With a number of his players returning next year, Withrow feels that the Pirates have a golden opportunity to take another step forward, noting that Cardington saw a dramatic increase in wins from the past couple years to this one.
“The big thing we were talking about here is that we went from back-to-back three-win seasons to double digits,” he said. “It was a good year for us. I’m really excited for what next year holds for us. I think the kids now understand what it takes.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS