Titans pick up their first win in Tacoma Dome in program history
TACOMA — The Union Titans believed all along this girls basketball season.
They believed before the season even started.
They kept believing, even after losing a couple of league games.
Those losses meant they would not win the league title, but those losses did not defeat their drive.
They still had their mission, to make a little program history.
Now, the Titans are making believers of everybody else.
They are going to the Class 4A state semifinals.
Mason Oberg’s basket with just over a minute to play gave Union the lead, Abbey Kaip followed with a putback basket for some breathing room, and the Titans held off Moses Lake 56-51 Thursday afternoon in the Tacoma Dome.
The program had never won a game in the dome before Thursday.
Now it will be the team’s first appearance in the final four. Union will take on Central Valley at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“Just getting to the quarterfinals, we were making history for Union,” Oberg said. “Obviously that’s big, but this is even bigger. Every single win we get, we’re making history. That’s our goal, to make it to that championship on Saturday.”
“You either win or you learn. All of our losses, except for one, were by one possession. After every single one of those, we came away with something to fix,” Union coach Gary Mills said. “Our girls compete really hard right now. I’m just so proud of them.”
Moses Lake took a 51-50 lead with 1:21 to play, but 15 seconds later, Oberg regained the lead for the Titans.
“I was going to do whatever it takes. We came to win this game,” Oberg said. “I saw the lane. Kenzie (Mackenzie Lewis) set a nice screen. I said, ‘I’m just going to take it and focus on the rim and go to the hoop because we need this, and I want to win.’”
Simple as that.
Oberg finished with 17 points to lead the Titans. Lolo Weatherspoon added 15 points.
Kaip had struggled with her shot for much of the day, but scored in crunch time. With 26 seconds left and still with a one-point lead, she missed a free throw. Lewis tipped it back to Kaip, who had an open look and scored to make it a three-point game.
“Kenzie is a great rebounder,” Kaip said. “Just getting that tip back to me was a great play.”
Moses Lake missed its chance to tie, and Sarah Litchford made two free throws to seal the deal for the Titans.
“It’s pretty crazy. We believed ever since the beginning,” Kaip said. “Just being here is amazing.”
Weatherspoon echoed those thoughts.
“It’s just a crazy feeling. All the work we put in to get here, and it’s just surreal that we could make it to the next game. Now we’re just trying to get to Saturday.”
Weatherspoon had a strong first quarter to help Union to a one-point lead. Oberg hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter and Union held a two-point lead at the half.
Weatherspoon converted an old-fashioned three-point play in the final minute of the third quarter to give Union a two-point advantage.
Union went up by six points with five minutes to play, but Moses Lake would get the next six points.
Moses Lake also missed five of seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
Union took advantage, then went back to work in the final minute to close out the first Tacoma Dome victory in program history.
“That was a great game. A lot of fun,” Mills said.