Central Valley’s defense shuts down Titans in the Tacoma Dome
TACOMA — This is not a happy-to-be-here story.
Not yet, anyway.
One day, the Union boys basketball team will be ready to look back on its 26-game win streak, earning the top seed, and reaching the Class 4A state semifinals.
The Titans are not there.
This team wanted more.
And now, that cannot happen.
Central Valley never trailed in the second half, ending Union’s dream of a perfect record and a state title with a 63-55 victory in the Tacoma Dome.
The Bears, who were led in scoring by Noah Sanders’ 16 points, are going to the championship game to face Mount Si.
Union (26-1) will try to bounce back in the third-place game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Glacier Peak.
That was not the plan for the Titans.
“It wasn’t our night. We just didn’t execute,” senior Tanner Toolson said. “We couldn’t hit shots. It wasn’t our night tonight.”
Toolson scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half, trying to will the Titans back in it after Central Valley went up by 11 points in the third quarter.
Josh Reznick had a double-double for the Titans with 10 points and 12 rebounds. His offensive rebound, follow-up slam was instrumental in a big Union push in the fourth quarter.
The Titans could never quite catch the Bears, though.
Union had cut that 11-point deficit to two points on a Toolson basket with 5:41 to play in the game. Central Valley missed its next shot, giving the Titans the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Instead, Union turned it over. Dylan Darling converted a three-point play on the other end, and Union was down by five again.
“It felt like we were catching up again,” Union coach Blake Conley said.
The Titans never truly recovered. Central Valley would push the lead back to 11.
“I told them how proud they should be,” Conley said of the post-game discussion. “These guys fought so hard. It’s a really special group. We have one more opportunity tomorrow to go in and fight, play together.
“These guys love each other. They are as close of a group as I’ve ever been around.”
This group has one more contest to play.
“Just got to take advantage of all the time we’ve got left,” Toolson said.
Toolson had a quick start to Friday’s game. He had a steal, a dunk in traffic, another steal, plus a 3-pointer in the first couple of minutes.
Mason Hill then connected on back-to-back 3-pointers for an 11-5 Union lead. That would be Union’s biggest lead of the night.
The second quarter started with seven consecutive lead changes. Central Valley scored. Then Union. Back to CV. Then it was the Titans’ turn.
Central got just a little breathing room toward the end of the quarter. Toolson banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a two-point game at the half.
Central Valley, though, opened the second half on a 12-3 run to take an 11-point lead.
Toolson and Reznick combined for a nine-point stretch to open the fourth quarter, getting Union to within two.
The Bears, though, had had enough of that, and finished the job against the Titans.
“It was a very physical game tonight. No excuses. I thought it was very fair,” Conley said. “The physicality of it, we just weren’t able to overcome.
“They played really tough on D. We haven’t seen that kind of defense. Credit to Central Valley. They’re a great team.”