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Drew overwhelms Union Grove on Titans' senior night

Drew overwhelms Union Grove on senior night

Lester Knauls led Drew with 16 as the Titans defeated Union Grove 70-52. (Special Photo)

Lester Knauls led Drew with 16 as the Titans defeated Union Grove 70-52. (Special Photo)

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Union Grove’s Kyle McCrae, left, looks for someone to pass to during Friday’s subregion battle at Drew. (Special Photo)

RIVERDALE — There would be no revenge for Union Grove. Rather, it was more like a repeat for Drew.

Three players scored in double figures for the Titans, including Bryson Duckworth, who had a team high 16 points, to help pace Drew to a 70-52 subregion win over Union Grove on Drew’s senior night.

And although the atmosphere was festive, and the victory was fit for the occasion, coach Jarrod Davis was in no mood to stop and celebrate.

“You know, not to try and take the emphasis off (senior night), but we just wanted to come out and see if we can stay where we are in the region,” Davis said.

Where that is, is first place. With the win, Drew bumped its record up to 13-6 overall, and 9-3 in Region 4-AAAAA, Division A play. That puts the Titans a full three games ahead of second-place Union Grove. The win gave Drew its second straight victory, while simultaneously halting Union Grove’s three-game winning streak.

“Union Grove has a heck of a good team,” Davis said. “Russ Atkins is doing a heck of a job over there. They’re a team that is athletic and can make adjustments. We were just able to make good adjustments ourselves at halftime, which is what you have to do to beat a team like Union Grove.”

In that sense, this game was not much different than the first contest between these two schools just two weeks ago. Just as in that game, Union Grove — and Caleb Ham in particular — came strong out of the gate, taking an early 10-4 lead before Drew’s Demarco Smith began to catch fire.

Ham scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first frame, but it was Smith who drained back-to-back 3 pointers to help put Drew in front 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The two teams traded punches for most of the second quarter, and this time it was Union Grove center Jay Shorts providing some of the Wolverine’s scoring punch. Every time Drew would try to make a run, Shorts would cut it short, using his presence in the paint to get him consistently to the free-throw line. A short-range jumper and two consecutive trips to the line pushed Union Grove to a 26-23 lead late in the second quarter.

Drew, with 1:09 left in the half, took a 27-26 advantage after Donya Vaughn’s floater, but a pair of foul shots by Kyle McCrae gave the Wolverines a 28-27 halftime lead, which meant Union Grove found itself exactly where it was at this point in the last game —with a lead.

But when the third quarter opened, it was almost like deja vu for the Wolverines who, earlier this week, lamented how they didn’t match Drew’s intensity in the second half of the first game. And in this game, it was different venue, same story.

Lester Knauls scored eight of his 14 in the third quarter, as Union Grove stretched to a 48-42 lead going into the fourth, and then the floodgates opened, with Smith pulling up and burying a three from almost NBA range, and Duckworth brutalizing Union Grove down low.

The Wolverines could find no answer as the Titans’ lead grew into double figures, and after the game, Davis would give no answers about his team’s long range goals, heading toward the home stretch of the regular season.

“We don’t worry about down the stretch,” Davis said. “We’re worried about facing North Clayton Saturday. We’re focusing on one game at a time, and just trying to survive each night.”

Union Grove fell to 14-7 and 7-5 with the loss. The Wolverines will have no time to lick its wounds, as they will travel to in-county rival Woodland for a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.

In addition to Ham’s 18, Shorts chipped in with 10 for Union Grove, while Smith helped out with Duckworth with 15 of his own for the Titans.