The Bears are listening.
Defense and the solid shooting from junior guard Noah Garrison led Union to a 62-55 win over J.I. Burton on Saturday in the championship game of the Grand Home Furnishings Holiday Classic at the Virginia-Wise Prior Center.
“We’ve been preaching and harping on that. That you’ve got to be better defensively,” Moore said. “We’re always best defensively in the first quarter. We’ve got to work on keeping up that intensity up.
“I told our guys in the locker room just now we won these last three games because of defense. We’re missing some points and everybody’s got to step up their game a little bit. But I think our defensive effort has been better these last three games than it’s been the whole year.
“That’s why we won the game.”
The coach said balance is a key for his squad right now following the loss of Wes Slagle to a season-ending knee injury.
“It’s kind of been a different guy each night. Noah didn’t play the last two games and he knows that. Tonight he was the man. We just kind of ran the offense through him,” Moore noted. “And ... Alex Rasnick has stepped up as a freshman. We knew he was going to give us some minutes and he’s just kind of settled down a little bit and he can score. We’re just getting contributions from every player and that’s kind of how we’ve got to go going forward.”
Garrison, the tournament’s MVP, scored a game-high 30 points. He connected on five 3-point shots, including a buzzer- beater from just inside the halfcourt line that extended the Bears’ lead from seven to 10 points heading into the final quarter.
“It helped a lot,” Garrison said of having his team’s confidence. “I kind of did call it.”
Rasnick and senior James Mitchell added 10 points apiece.
Caleb Williams led Burton with 21 points. Houston Thacker added 13 points and Austin Lane finished with 13 rebounds.
The Raiders (8-3) cut the Union lead to five points twice in the second half but could not get any closer.
“We got in a little foul trouble and that hurt and I thought Garrison just played a great game, in the first half especially,” Raiders coach Aaron Williams said. “In the second half we really attacked them a lot better and we attacked where I thought we had some advantages.
“Against Union we needed to do that both halves and we didn’t do that.”
Wise Central (5-4) got 31 points from Isaiah McAmis, including the game-winning basket with one second left, to take a dramatic 70-68 win over Honaker (5-3) in the third-place game.
Ben Stallard added 12 points for the Warriors and Dalton Mullins snared nine rebounds.
Honaker got 26 points from Hartley Hilton, 15 from Grayson Honaker and 14 from Brandon Sample.
In other consolation games Saturday, Ridgeview (7-2) defeated Marion (3-4) by a 59-55 margin, Northwood (5-8) used a fourth-quarter scoring surge to take a 64-47 win over Rye Cove (4-6), and Hurley (3-7) edged Grundy (1-8) 56-55 in a battle of Buchanan County squads.