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Last season, East Union set a goal to make it out of the division tournament and into the first round of the playoffs in basketball. Achieving that, but falling in the first round at Calhoun City, the Urchins came back this season hungrier than ever and have a chance to advance further this season after earning a spot in north half with a 93-26 win over Hatley on Tuesday.
Coach Tim McDonald’s squad entered the district tournament on a four-game skid, and it was after a loss to Baldwyn that the team came together to express their concerns and get back on the same page.
“We called the team in and had a little heart-to-heart and let everyone say what they needed to say,” senior Chris Tables said. “We found out how each of us felt about how things were going, and we got back on track. Now here we are.”
Tables, along with junior Trey Barkley, have led the Urchins in scoring this season with 14 and 13 points per game, respectively. This duo also accounts for over half of the team’s three-point baskets. While they may be outsized, the Urchins have proven they can find other ways to beat their opponents.
“The main thing is that we keep fighting no matter what the odds are in the game,” Tables said. “We’re one of the smallest teams, yet we play bigger than what we are.”
The challenge began on Thursday, as the Urchins advanced to play Hamilton in the division semifinals. The Lions defeated East, 84-65, in late January.
“The key to Hamilton is just to shut down the rebounding and everything that they get. If we can do that, we could be alright. We can’t let them score 80 again,” Tables said.
As for success beyond the division tournament, Barkley said the it all starts with the team coming together.
“We’ve got to come together as a team and have good ball movement, good defense and block out. We can’t hang our heads and get down when things get tough,” he said.
“Our goal is just to get further than what we have before,” Tables added. “Yeah, we made it to the first round. Good. Now I want to see us make it to the north half tournament at Hickory Flat.”