Turnovers take down Titans

Union falls into consolation bracket at 4A boys state basketball tournament

TACOMA — The No. 1 seed can no longer finish No. 1.

The Union Titans still want to finish strong, though.

Union coach Blake Conley, shown here earlier in the season, said the Titans showed great effort Thursday even in defeat at the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz
Union coach Blake Conley, shown here earlier in the season, said the Titans showed great effort Thursday even in defeat at the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Curtis Vikings scored the game’s final seven points, stunning the Titans 58-55 in the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament quarterfinals in the Tacoma Dome.

“It hurts. A lot of kids are disappointed,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “We gotta fight back tomorrow. Consolation games are about toughness, mental and physical. I know we have tough kids. We’ll battle.”
They will fight, only they will be fighting in the morning, the dreaded breakfast club of the double-elimination tournament.

Union will take on Puyallup at 9 a.m. in the fourth-place semifinals.

The Titans wanted to be in the championship semis, of course, but turnovers did them in Thursday against Curtis.

Conley said the goal for the Titans is 10 turnovers or less for a game. The Titans had 13 in the second half against the Vikings, 19 total.

“I’m surprised we were even that close,” Conley said. “We must have done a lot of things well to be in the game with that many turnovers against a good team.”
Curtis led for much of the first half, but the Titans would gain the edge just before halftime and maintain that lead 1:38 left in the game.

Jordan Parker’s three-point play gave Curtis a 54-53 lead. Another turnover led to a Curtis basket and a three-point advantage. Zack Paulsen led the Vikings with 22 points.

Houston Combs would score for Union with 8 seconds left to make it a one-point game again. The Titans fouled. The Vikings converted. Union’s last-second 3-pointer fell short.

Union, No. 1 in the WIAA’s RPI coming into the tournament, fell to 24-2 this season.

Ethan Smith led Union with 18 points. Brad Lackey made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

Lackey’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter gave the Titans a six-point lead.

Then those turnovers proved costly.

“It was uncharacteristic,” Conley said.

“We just didn’t make plays down the stretch. It wasn’t for lack of effort by our guys,” Conley said.

He expects another strong effort Friday in the consolation bracket.

“We’ve still done amazing things this season,” Conley said. “We want to do it for two more games, not just one.”

A win Friday will assure Union of a trophy at state, a spot into the fourth-place game Saturday.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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