Boys basketball: Union reaches 4A semifinals

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

Updated: March 1, 2012, 11:22 PM

 

4A Boys State Basketball Tournament

Union vs Jackson

TACOMA — Just when it seems that surely the Union Titans have used up their allotment of Tacoma Dome magic, they manage to conjure up something new.

Jordan Chatman made a 3-point shot with 1:01 to play Thursday, providing the final points in Union’s thrilling 66-65 overtime victory against Jackson High School of Mill Creek.

“I’m pretty confident,” said the BYU-bound Chatman, who finished with 20 points. “With the game on the line, I’m usually pretty clutch.”

The victory in the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament puts Union into the semifinals, where it will play Central Valley of Veradale at 9 p.m. Friday.

It also shows that the Titans still feel right at home in the Tacoma Dome, where the program won the Class 3A title two years ago.

That championship run featured victories in which Union survived last-second misses by their opponents in both the semifinal and the championship game. Thursday’s win was no different.

After Tanner Nelson made two free throws to tie the game with 9.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Jackson’s Jason Todd missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Following Chatman’s 3-pointer in overtime, Jackson missed two good shots in the final 30 seconds.

Not that the Titans expected it to end any other way.

“You can usually tell pretty early if the game is going to be a battle, a grind,” said Nelson, who matched Chatman for team-high honors with 20 points. “It’s just the intensity on the court.”

After leading 31-27 at halftime, Union built a 38-29 advantage early in the third quarter. But Jackson battled back, and neither team led by more than three points over the final five minutes of regulation or the four minutes of overtime.

“It felt like we were always fighting uphill,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “We couldn’t get a rhythm.

“That’s their style; you’ve got to give them credit. They press, they double-team, they make you pause and think. We knew that, but they do it well.”

With 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Todd grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. His two free throws — he finished 14 of 15 from the line — gave Jackson a 60-58 lead.

An aggressive drive by Nelson on the ensuing possession landed him on the line with an opportunity to tie the game.

“I was like, ‘This is what I’ve waited 18 years, four years of high school, for,’ ” he said.

Two free throws and one Jackson miss later, and the game was in overtime.

With Jackson leading 65-63 in the extra period, Union’s Seaver Whalen came up with a steal with 1:22 to play. That set up Chatman’s 3-pointer.

“I thought he was shooting it way too deep,” Nelson said. “But I trust Jordan, whatever he thinks is best for us, because he’s a great player.”

That gave Union the lead, but the Titans had to wait out a couple Jackson misses and offensive rebounds.

It all seemed so familiar.

“I don’t know,” Union coach Maco Hamilton said. “Maybe we have some kind of magic or something.”

UNION 66, JACKSON 65, OT UNION — Tyler Copp 7, Seaver Whalen 2, Dominique Ceaser 0, Brian Cairns 3, Tanner Nelson 20, Jordan Chatman 20, Trent Cowan 10, Kaben Humphrey-Butler 10, Gabe Rego 4. Totals 19-36 (6-18) 10-14 66. JACKSON — Dan Kingma 6, Sam Brown 24, Andrew Graff 3, Connor Willgress 0, Andrew Todd 3, Jason Todd 22, Brian Zehr 5, Kyle Graff 0, Trevor Waite 2. Totals 10-30 (9-23) 18-23 65 Union 18 9 13 12 6—66Jackson 18 9 13 15 5—65