The Union girls basketball team celebrated its Senior Night on Tuesday with one of the most memorable wins for the graduating Class of 2020, taking down Sumner-Fredericksburg 41-36 in overtime after being down by double digits at several points in the game. The visiting Cougars would not make things easy, outscoring the Knights 24-16 in the first half.
“I think we hung around close enough in the first half and stressed we wanted to continue what we were doing defensively,” Driscol said. “We played big tonight because they had size on us.”
One of the lowest scoring quarters of Union’s season followed as the two NICL schools managed to put up four points each in the third. Fourth quarters have not been Union’s friend this season, yet the Knights strung together one of their finest quarters to get within three points. A defensive stop gave the ball back to the Knights for a chance to tie the game.
“We’ve been saying all year that we were knocking on the door,” senior Natalie Tecklenburg said. “We’d been doing good things but hadn’t quite pulled out a win. Recently I think we just realized that we need to relax and play basketball. Have fun, but stay intense.”
While the Knights didn’t get the shot they initially wanted, Tecklenburg was able to get the ball to Allie Driscol for an open three to send the game to overtime at 34 points apiece.
“I always have faith in Allie and any of the guards for that matter,” Tecklenburg said. “I knew she had the confidence to do it and she executed.”
Momentum was on Union’s side as they found themselves in the double bonus and getting to the foul line with consistency. Allie Driscol iced the game with free throws to lead the Knights to a 7-2 run in overtime and gifted the seniors a win during their final home game.
“No matter who pulls the trigger, I want to see them shoot with confidence in that situation,” Driscol said. “We carried over what had been done in that whole second quarter defensively, took care of the ball and made enough free throws to finish it out.”
Allie Driscol led the Knights with 17 points off the bench, her starting spot granted to Kaylin Brustkern to allow all five Union seniors to start on the night. Tecklenburg tallied 14 points for the Knights with fellow seniors Sam Glenn and Carlie Hoppe adding four points apiece. Emma Shirk played tough defense on her senior night to help Union to a win.
“All these seniors have been with us for several years and are very loyal to our program,” Driscol said. “I’m proud to see them stick it out and they’ve been great girls to coach. They come from good families and are just a pleasure to have around. They work hard, are very coachable and we’ll miss them next season.”
The five seniors were recognized during halftime of the boys game alongside members of the Union Dance Team. Tecklenburg recalled watching the Class of 2017 walk across the floor its final time as the Knights capped off a successful regular season. The Dysart native noted she has gone from observing “a group of experienced seniors” as a freshman to being a senior leader in her own right during what she said was the biggest night of her basketball career.
“The last four years have been filled with ups and downs for me” Tecklenburg said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve enjoyed every second. Tonight’s game is definitely my best memory, hands down. It’s awesome that my last memory in our home gym is such an exciting game with so much energy.
Union finishes its season on the road at Dike-New Hartford on Thursday and at Jesup on Friday before Regional matchups are announced. The end of Tecklenburg’s career and her classmates careers at Union may be coming to a close, but they still have a mission going forward: win a postseason game and go from there.
“My main goal is that we don’t back down from a fight,” Tecklenburg said. “We haven’t all year and we won’t in the postseason. We have faith in each other and just really like playing with each other. I think that’s one of the biggest things about our team; there’s no drama, and we all genuinely want to do our best each night for each other.”