Titans lose to Curtis in semis, and will play Olympia for third place
The Union Titans came up with a positive outlook Friday night in the Tacoma Dome, minutes after falling in the Class 4A boys basketball state semifinals.
Their championship dreams are over, but the season is not.
“It’s a blessing to get one more game with them,” said senior Evan Eschels, referring to his teammates. “The third-place game. Not where we wanted to be, but it’s still a blessing to have one more game.”
Curtis scored the first eight points Friday night in the semifinal and never trailed en route to a 49-40 victory. The Vikings will play Mount Si in the championship game.
Union will play for third place against Olympia at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Titans withstood that initial charge from the Vikings but never fully recovered.
“I’m still trying to take it all in,” Eschels said. “I feel like we just kind of gave up too many buckets early and we couldn’t break that lead.”
Union held Curtis to 10 points in the second quarter and pulled to within five points at the half.
Curtis would push the lead to 12 on two occasions in the third quarter, but again, the Titans responded, getting it back to seven points going into the fourth.
And in the fourth, Union got to within four points a couple of times, then three points with just less than two minutes remaining.
Curtis’ Devin Whitten ended any hopes of a Union comeback, though, connecting on a deep 3-pointer. He was fouled and converted the four-point play with 1:23 remaining.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “I wish I knew.”
Whitten led the Vikings with 16 points. He was 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
Yanni Fassillis led Union with 17 points and four blocked shots. Bryson Metz added 11 points. Eschels ended up with eight points and 12 rebounds.
Senior Jamison Limbrick recalled being on the 2020 team that also lost in the semifinals.
“I just want the younger guys to use this as motivation,” Limbrick said. “We got back to the same spot. I’m hoping the next group will be back here.”
And perhaps get over the semifinal hurdle.
Still, the Titans have one more game.
“They have nothing to hang their heads about,” Conley said. “Obviously we’re all disappointed. The fact that they’re disappointed that they’re not going to the state championship game shows that we did something right this season.”
Conley has had experience coaching teams in the trophy game coming off a loss on Friday. He said the team with the most passion for the game prevails in the game that both teams wish they weren’t involved in on the final day of the high school basketball season.
“I like these guys’ heart. I like their toughness,” Conley said. “They’ve earned the right to play one more together. Just enjoy that.”