Skyview finds Union’s stars hard to guard

Chatman, Nelson lead Titans to 69-61 victory

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Union senior Jordan Chatman was on his game.

So, too, was teammate Tanner Nelson.

That does not seem fair to the rest of the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League.

Chatman, the 6-foot-4 guard with a Division-I body, and Nelson, a 6-2 guard with a football body, were just too strong and fast for Skyview on Thursday night.

Chatman went off for 32 points, and Nelson scored 12 of his 17 in the second half in a 69-61 Union victory in a Class 4A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game at Union.

“It’s nice to know we have two threats,” Chatman said. “It’s hard for the defense to guard us both.”

It’s not just a benefit on offense with those two. The Titans, not blessed with a lot of height, use their guards to harass opponents, to make it difficult for them to get the ball inside.

In a game against Evergreen earlier this season, the Titans held 6-foot-11 post Caleb Dressler to just a handful of shots. Thursday, they held 6-foot-7 Ryan Bickford to four field goal attempts.

“We obviously game-plan for protecting the paint,” Nelson said. “It’s our guards getting pressure, it’s our weakside helping, and it’s our low-post guys being able to deny them.”

“That’s what we were trying to do,” Union coach Maco Hamilton said. “We try to negate what they do well and we try to play to what we do well.”

Union, with that defense/offense combination, improved to 5-0 in the 4A GSHL. Skyview fell to 4-2 in league play — the two losses coming against the Titans.

Still, the Storm have earned the respect of the Titans.

“They’re a lot better,” Nelson said. “They’ve improved a lot, especially from last year. They’re a solid team. They’re fun to play.”

Fun, huh?

Union scored the final 10 points of the first quarter to take a 22-15 lead. The Titans would not relinquish that advantage. However, they did not run away from the Storm. The lead got up to 13 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Skyview finished the period on a 9-2 spurt.

Chatman scored seven of Union’s next nine points to push the lead to 11, but back came Skyview again.

Austin Bonds connected on a 3-pointer with 3:01 remaining to make it a five-point game at 59-54.

Fourteen seconds later, Chatman buried a shot and all was good again for the Titans.

“They played hard,” Chatman said of the Storm. “They played hard the whole, entire night. They brought the intensity.”

After both teams exchanged a free throw, Chatman would score again and Nelson closed the door with the final five points for his squad.

“We understand with our offense, we usually get whatever we want from it,” Nelson said. “Me and (Jordan) need to work the ball around to make stuff happen for ourselves and the team.”

Chatman finished 11 of 22 and also made four 3-pointers. Nelson was 6 of 10 from the floor. Tyler Copp had seven points and four assists for the Titans. Seaver Whalen and Chatman each had six rebounds.

Skyview’s Keegan Liebelt was hot to start the game, connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers. He would finish with four from long range and recorded a team-high 17 points. Bonds added 16 points. Bickford finished with eight points and four blocked shots. Ross Armstrong had eight points and eight rebounds for the Storm.

“It’s a good win because they’re a really good team,” Hamilton said.