Everything Working for Jets

By KIM NORTH

For the Intelligencer

Chances are many members of the Union Local boys’ basketball team have probably not heard of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The novel, which was penned by Scottish author Robert L. Stevenson way back in 1885, is the best way to describe the 2007-08 edition of the Jets.

Last week in the opening round of the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Championships, Union Local played the role of Dr. Henry Jekyll in an embarrassing loss to Shenandoah in Sarahsville.

Friday night in Morristown, the Jets (11-9) showed up as Mr. Edward Hyde as they could do little wrong in a 74-65 decision against Steubenville (10-10).

”We’ve got some pretty good basketball players when they play to their potential,” Union Local first-year coach Ben Porter said. ”Sometimes that is frustrating, but when you play well and win, it balances things out. It’s been a funny year.”

The game started out like the early rounds of a heavyweight boxing match as the teams traded basket-for-basket. After five scoring deadlocks, the hosts broke a 16-16 tie with a 7-0 run to finish the first quarter with a 23-16 advantage.

UL junior Joby Barr scored five of the seven points, with classmate Kyle Blackman adding the other two on a follow-up shot.

Big Red never recovered.

Junior Jordan Barbina scored 12 of his team’s 18 points in the second half as Union Local increased its lead to a game-high 13 points (38-25) at the 2:19 mark.

However, Big Red never backed down as it tallied seven of the final 10 points to trail 41-32 at the intermission.

Free-throw shooting in the second half determined the outcome as UL meshed 15 of 24 free throws to just 7 of 12.

Steubenville narrowed the deficit to seven, 56-49, at the end of three periods as UL only made 3 of 12 shots from the floor in the period and committed four turnovers. However, the Jets did cash in 9 of 11 free tosses, including 6 of 6 by Barr.

Barbina and Barr each scored six points in the final chapter as Big Red was never able to get any closer than seven.

”We just couldn’t get over that hump,” Steubenville’s Mark Masloski. ”In the first half we missed so many easy baskets. We took it strong, but just couldn’t finish. So many times we were able to cut the deficit to six or four, but then they would come down and hit a big shot.”

Barr finished with a career-high 29 points, including a 12 of 20 showing from the free-throw stripe. He also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, charted three assists and two steals.

Barbina packed his teammate with 24 points, seven boards, four assists and three swipes.

”In the games we’ve shot well, it’s easier to to play defense and everything else, but in the games that we’ve struggled shooting, we haven’t done so well,” added Porter, who watched his team sink 24 of 47 shots from the floor.

”Joby and Jordan both stepped up big. Everyone did a good job because they understand their roles, and that’s important in basketball.”

Masloski said his team just couldn’t stop either Barr or Barbina.

”Their guards played a great game. They’re good players.”

UL held a 45-31 advantage off the glass behind Barr and Barbina, while senior Sam Nardo also gathered in seven caroms. Fellow senior Zack Azallion chipped in 10 points.

Steubenville was led by 1,000-point scorer DeTroy Smith who tied Barr for game honors with 29. Sophomore Dwight Macon added a dozen points, while Smith, Macon and DiMichael Johnson all had seven rebounds apiece.

The Jets are back in action Tuesday night when they clash with Monroe Central in an Ohio Div. III Sectional Tournament game at Meadowbrook High School. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, Big Red will also return to the court Tuesday at St. John Arena against Buckeye Local in an Ohio Div. II Sectional Tournament contest.