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Unity goes toe-to-toe with Tuscola Warriors

by Daniel L. Chamness
Special for The Sentinel


The Unity Rockets and the Tuscola Warriors are not that far apart. How close were they?

For three and half quarters, the Rockets, playing in the friendly confines of Rocket Center, hung in there. With 4:30 left to play, the Rockets and the Warriors were tied up at 47-47. Jalen Quinn, the Warriors superstar junior, had just hit a three pointer to tie up the score. It was that last four and half minutes the Rockets could not stay with one of the better teams in the area.

Quinn would lead the run as he would nail an old fashioned three pointer at the 2:37 mark in addition to his game-tying three pointer. Quinn would finish the final quarter with 11 points to lead Tuscola, who were playing without four seniors, to a 64-54 victory.

The fourth quarter started with Unity up by five points.

They stayed one step ahead of the Warriors until the middle of the final period after Unity got points from Blake Kimball, Austin Langendorf and Tyler Hensch early in the quarter.

Tuscola was not idle either. Preston Brown and Quinn scored in the first minute of the quarter and with a a pair of Josiah Hortin three pointers, one at 6:03 and another at 5:01, had clipped the lead to one, 45-44. Kimball gave Unity their final lead of the game, when he scored at the 3:35 mark.

Tuscola Warrior junior Jalen Quinn brings the ball up the court, while Unity sophomore Will Cowan keeps a close eye on him and plays defense. The visiting Warriors defeated the Rockets at the Rocket Center 64-54 on Saturday afternoon.
Photo by Daniel L. Chamness


"We love to play Tuscola," said Matt Reed, Unity's head coach. "Quinn is a special player, anyone can see that.

"Both teams play hard and with intensity and energy. We did not want Quinn to beat us on his own."

Reed then explained: "We lost our composure in the fourth quarter. We play physical so we have a chance to win. We had a 10-point lead and with a team like that it does not take much to close that gap. We had a couple of bad possessions and they made us pay for it. Hortin's treys turned the momentum of the game."

Other than the final, the Rockets led at the other three breaks.

Holding a three-point lead (11-8) at the end of the opening stanza, a two-point (28-26) lead at the end of the first half and a five-point advantage (39-34) at the end of the third period.

Unity drew first blood in the contest, as Unity junior guard Damian Knoll hit a three pointer at the 6:15 mark. They closed the quarter with a trey as well, as senior Nate Drennan found the hole from the right wing with 1:35 left in the quarter.

The Rockets would extend their lead to as many as ten points, 28-18 with 2:17 left in the first half. Kimball nailed a three-pointer only to have the Warriors would clip the lead to just two by halftime.

After Quinn snagged a bucket in the first minute of the second half, Unity went to work.

They went on an 11-0 run as their lead ballooned to 39-28. The run started with a short jumper by Langendorf, followed by a lay in by Langendorf. Kimball would score the next five points, starting with a three pointer at 5:05 followed by a pair of free throws at the 3:20 mark. With 2:22 to play, Drennan put the ball through the rim on a regulation bucket to complete the run.

"We have played Unity four times over the last three years and they are always a physical team," said Tuscola head coach Justin Bozarth. "Unity threw some great defenses at Quinn, trying to get the ball out of his hands or denying him the ball totally. They did great on some junk defenses." The Unity Rockets are 3-9 overall. Tuscola improved to 11-4 overall. Kimball was in double figures with 24 points. Quinn led all scorers with 28 points.

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