Super Six: Union's basketball program sets the standard of excellence

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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - "I mean I didn't want to be the first player to come in and not win the conference regular season championship, so I felt like it was kind of some pressure," Senior Guard and Lexington native Lance Blakely said.

The Union Bulldogs have taken home the last six Appalachian Athletic Conference titles.

"I don't think anybody would ever imagine winning six regular-season conference championships consecutively, and as you're doing, at the same time win six conference tournament championships," Head Coach Kevin Burton said.

It's their most recent title - one the Bulldogs won at the end of February - that may have required the toughest road of all as the Bulldogs battled back twice in the semifinals and the final.

"You know it's just next play, keep fighting and look what happens," Austin Cummins, a junior guard said. "You keep fighting, it comes out."

"They want to be in that moment. They can't wait for it, and that's something that's hard to coach," Burton added.

Most successful programs have some level of consistency, and the consistent figure throughout Union's stretch is the man in charge.

"Only thing throughout the six years that's been the same is Coach Burton," Senior Guard K.J. Duronslet said about his head coach for the past two years. "His recruiting, his system is real good and he just gets players that want to win."

However the program is more than about winning, it's about the culture created and the way the players come together.

"I think when you have a group of guys like that, you know, that you just love playing with, it makes a lot of things easier," DeMarkus Loman, a junior guard said.

"I guess what makes it so special is that - I can't even explain it, I can't even talk about it. It's nothing to be said, like we just - I don't know. I love these dudes," Duronslet added. "I love 'em, you know? I think it's just the love. It's all mutual, all the way around."