Unionville boys notch first win, stifle Shanahan, 39-27

Indians’ defense dominates as new coach DiNicola gets first win

By Mike McGann, UnionvilleTimes.com

Unionville's Tyler Fries goes up for a jumper. Fries led the Indians with 14 points as they knocked off Bishop Shanahan, Friday night.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The offense, though improving, continues to be a work in progress. But the defense, a stifling, aggressive game-changer looks to be what Unionville’s boys basketball team will hang its hat on in 2010-11.

The Indians used brilliant defense Friday night and some clutch offense to knock off Bishop Shanahan, 39-27, in new coach Anthony DiNicola’s first win at the helm for Unionville. Unionville (1-3) held the Eagles to a mere 10 points in the first half.

“That’s some pretty good defense,” a happy DiNicola said after the game. “It’s a credit to our kids, they really played great team defense.”

And while the defense was the story, the offense, using the new Triangle/Princeton hybrid, was clearly more effective than in earlier outings, resulting in a lot more close-in shots. In fact, had the Indians been able to get a more few open shots to drop, Friday’s game, which had a few tense moments, would have been a laugher by halftime — as Unionville thoroughly outplayed Shanahan.

“They’re starting to make some reads,” DiNicola said, noting that he hasn’t really added to the offense — although he plans to — and deeper penetration into the paint is a result of the team being able to move the ball better, find the open man and know better what to do with the ball in a given situation.

Unionville's Matt Chrisopher looks to make a move against a Bishop Shanahan defender.

Friday night was also a clearer indication of change’s in DiNicola’s rotation, with sophomores starting to take a bigger role and getting more playing time off the bench. Patch Johnson and Beck Turvesson played meaningful minutes Friday night — allowing senior starters Matt Christopher, Mike Sundry and Tyler Fries some rest without missing a beat. Fries led Unionville with 14 points — and had a fairly dominant night on the boards.

But again — defense was the story. The Indians allowed just one field goal in the first quarter and seemed to completely frustrate the Eagles’ on offense, for the most part playing a rugged man-to-man defense. More impressive, as Shanahan features five senior starters, Unionville never got rattled, even when the pace of the game picked up in the second half.

Unionville coach Anthony DiNicola got his first win as Indians' coach.

Unionville put Shanahan in a deep hole in the third quarter with an 8-0 run to start the half — seemingly putting the game away after Garrett Geiger’s jumper gave the Indians a 23-10 lead. The eagles managed to claw their way back to within eight — after Michael Ebarguen hit a pair of free throws with less than 3:00 remaining. From there, though, Unionville slammed the door — hitting an impressive eight-of-ten in the closing minutes from the foul line to lock up the victory.

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