The Union Titans were in a bit of a predicament.
They had pretty much controlled most of Friday night’s Class 4A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game against Evergreen, but then ...
... but then ...
... well, actually, the Titans still pretty much controlled the fourth quarter even after it seemed like everything was spiraling out of control.
Union’s best player was ejected early in the fourth quarter. Evergreen had some momentum, cutting a 17-point deficit to eight. It was turning into clutch time.
Then the Titans went to Tyler Copp.
With four consecutive 3-pointers, Copp buried the Plainsmen and led Union to a 73-56 victory, clinching the league championship for the Titans.
“With every shot, it just got easier and easier,” said Copp, who scored 14 of Union’s final 18 points and finished with a game-high 24. “I just let it fly. I knew it was going in, every time.”
Copp finished 7 of 12 from the floor, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
It is the second league title in the past three years for the Titans (14-4, 9-1 GSHL).
“It’s an honor to re-stake the throne of best team in Clark County,” Union coach Maco Hamilton said.
The Titans celebrated even if they were still steaming from a series of events in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Chatman scored 23 points for the Titans, but he had to sit out the final 7 minutes, 11 seconds after officials ejected him for fighting. Chatman fell hard to the floor after a blocked shot by Evergreen’s Caleb Dressler. Chatman got up and appeared to be going after Dressler. A teammate and Hamilton, who ran in from the bench area, tried to hold back Chatman.
The aggressive act was enough for the officials to rule fighting and ejected Chatman, who will not be
allowed to play in Union’s next game.
A minute later, there was another technical foul called on the Titans.
Evergreen’s Jahmil Johnson made three of those four free throws and Ajay Jenkins swished a 3-pointer during that stretch to make it an eight-point contest at 51-43.
Tanner Nelson, who scored 11 first-quarter points, scored back-to-back baskets to restore some order for the Titans.
“It was time for me to step up and make sure we stayed composed as a team,” Nelson said. “We didn’t lose our cool right then.”
Up 10 with less than five minutes remaining, Copp got hot.
A 3-pointer for a 13-point lead. After an Evergreen score, another 3-pointer for a 14-point lead. Then one more, from real deep, as if he were trying for degree of difficulty points.
“I just knew that with Jordan out, we’d need that extra boost,” Copp said.
Timeout Evergreen, and Hamilton outraced his players onto the court to celebrate with Copp.
“I’m sick and tired of watching them celebrate,” Hamilton said of the Plainsmen.
Evergreen beat Union three times last season and also rallied to hand Union its lone league loss this season.
“Every time they beat us, they have a mosh pit. I said let’s see what it feels like to celebrate,” Hamilton said.
Both teams began Friday with some cold shooting. Union, though, warmed up quickly and ran toward that league title.
The Titans, who were 1 for 9 from the floor and trailed 7-4, made 10 of their next 11 shots, including five 3-pointers, to take a 29-13 advantage.
Chatman scored 10 of his points in the third quarter. He ended up 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
Johnson and David Shirts led Evergreen with 11 points apiece. Tre Clark added eight. Dressler struggled on offense and finished with seven points. But he hauled in 19 rebounds.
The loss sends Evergreen (12-7, 6-5) into a fight for second and third place. Skyview and Battle Ground are at 5-5. The second-place team will advance to the bi-district tournament. The third-place team will have to play a pig-tail game to advance. Fourth place will stay home for the playoffs.
UNION 73, EVERGREEN 56
EVERGREEN — Jalen Ballard 6, Ajay Jenkins 7, David Shirts 11, Jahmil Johnson 11, Tre Clark 8, Austin Gurnsey 2, Andrew White 0, Caleb Dressler 7, Thomas Phillips 2, Zach Smith 2. Totals 22-60 (3-13) 9-13 56.
UNION — Dionte Ceaser 0, Tyler Copp 24, Dominique Ceaser 0, Seaver Whalen 0, Tanner Nelson 17, Jordan Chatman 23, Trent Cowan 3, Kaben Humphrey-Butler 2, Gabe Rego 0, Micah Merfeld 0, Brian Cairns 4. Totals 26-60 (12-25) 9-13 73.
Evergreen 13 11 11 21—56
Union 23 15 13 22—73