As the first part of what turned out to be a three-game sweep on Friday night, it was a winning night for the junior high boys team from West Union as they used a late D. J. Welch basket to edge out the visiting Manchester Greyhounds by a final score of 45-43.
The game was evenly played throughout the first half, with West Union holding a slim 22-21 halftime advantage. By the end of the third quarter, however, the Hounds had overtaken the home team to lead 36-34.
The fourth period kept the fans of both sides on the edge of their seats as the Dragons rode the hot hand of Eli Fuller back into the lead, only to see Manchester's Hunter Conley hit a big three, followed by a Bryan Young free throw to put the Hounds up two at 43-41.
A stick back by West Union's J. J. Kramer tied the game at 43 and the Greyhounds went to the free throw line after the Dragons were whistled for a foul on a steal attempt. Manchester missed the front end of the bonus, giving the Dragons a chance to get the go-ahead bucket.
With just 10 seconds left, Fuller found Welch under the basket for a layup that put the Dragons in front as the West Union faithful erupted in delight. The Greyhounds managed to get off a final desperation shot that was off the mark and the Dragons escaped with the two-point win, 45-43.
"Both teams played their hearts out and we are very happy to come away with a win," said West Union coach Scott McFarland. "We knew it would be a physical game that would likely stay within a couple of baskets either way, making every possession critical."
"The fans saw a good one tonight. I am very proud of our team for their hard work and preparation all week for this game."
The winning Dragons were led by Eli Fuller's 16 points, followed closely by J.J. Kramer with 14 and D.J. Welch with 13. Manchester was paced by Kaulen Cox with 10, Colton Thornburg with 9, and Bryan Young with 8.
West Union faces back to back games this weekend, facing Fayetteville at home on Friday and then traveling to Lynchburg on Saturday. Junior high tournament action will be starting soon so watch your Defender sports pages for coverage.