SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- A key defensive adjustment fueled a huge second half run that sparked the Union Catholic boys basketball team to its first victory of the season when the Vikings defeated Snyder 77-66 in its home opener on Friday night in Scotch Plains.
Union Catholic, now 1-2 on the season, trailed Snyder 47-41 with 4:25 left in the third quarter when the Vikings called a timeout. After the timeout, UC came out in a 2-3 zone and promptly went on a 15-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 56-47 lead into the final period.
In that game-changing run, Ibn Lynn, a 6-5 senior guard, scored six points on aggressive moves to the basket, Justin Archer had four points on two put-backs, and Jaheim Tanksley, who played a sensational all-round game, drained a three-pointer following a steal.
UC kept Snyder scoreless for 5:14 spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Vikings never let Snyder get closer than seven points the rest of the game.
With UC leading 63-56, Tanksley, a junior guard who finished with a career and game-high 24 points, buried one of his three 3-pointers from deep in the corner to put the Vikings ahead 66-56 with 3:38 left in the game. Archer followed with a layup off a steal and then Gio Phillip scored on a layup to increase the lead to 70-56 with 2:50 left in the game.
Another big key to the second half surge for the Vikings was the inside play of Archer and Lynn, who pounded the glass to limit Snyder's second chance opportunities, which Snyder capitalized on in the first half.
Archer, a 6-6 junior forward, played a strong all-round game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Lynn finished with 16 points and five rebounds, and Rob Miller scored 12 points and had four assists.
UC, which lost by three points to both Rutgers Prep and Chatham to open the season, got off to a strong start with a 10-4 spurt to open the game. Tanksley, using his lightning quick first step and superior dribbling skills, scored seven points, Lynn had five, and Archer four when UC took a 17-13 lead after the first quarter.
After Snyder took a 29-27 lead on a three by Rockquan Richburg with 1:36 left in the second quarter, UC responded with a 7-0 run to take a 34-29 lead. Archer scored on a layup, Rob Miller drilled a three, and Tanksley converted in transition in that run.
Snyder scored the final five points of the second quarter, including a long three at the buzzer by Corey Manning-Floyd to tie the game at 34-34 at the half.
"Once we changed up our defense and started to be more aggressive on the boards we took over the game,'' said Tanksley. "That was the key to the game. And we started playing together as team more in the second half and everyone got involved and made plays. After losing our first two games we knew we needed to get this one at home, and we did what we had to do. It was a complete team effort.''