Despite outscoring Douglass in the second half 31-23, the Union Co. Panthers basketball squad couldn’t overcome being outscored 26-3 in the second as they fell, 63-50 in the first round of the Class AA state tournament in Atlanta.
Coming in as the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AA, the Panthers (15-12) narrowly missed being either of the top two seeds after falling to Social Circle by just four points, 62-58, in the semifinals of the region tournament. The loss proved important as Douglass (20-8) is one of the stronger two seeds in the tournament. The Astros hail from Region 6-AA.
The game was close early as the Panthers, led by seniors Pierson Allison, Sawyer Drake, Sawyer Brey, Kyle Morlock, and Cayden Rich, managed to keep step with the Astros to trail by just four, 14-10, after the first quarter.
But the second frame was all Astros. Union Co. managed just three points in the period as the home team put up 26 to take a 40-13 lead into halftime.
The Panthers did not go quietly, however. Led by the same superior guard play that led them to a strong showing after starting the season 3-6, Union Co. came storming back to cut the lead to 49-34 at the end of the third by outscoring Douglass 21-9 in the period.
The Panthers managed just cut the lead to 12 at 53-41 with a little less than four minutes to go, but the Astros would not be denied as they closed on a 10-9 run to preserve the first round victory.
While the loss is disappointing for the Panthers, this is the second-straight season the team has reached the state playoffs. This was also the first season with coach Corey Garrett at the helm.
The starting five will be completely different next year as Union Co. loses six seniors to graduation: Allison, Drake, Brey, Morlock, Rich, and Bryson Lariscy.