TACOMA — When Union coach Roger Shepard looks back to the weeks before his girls’ basketball team started the season, he feels that the Titans received a bit too much recognition.
However after Friday night’s 54-46 4A bi-district win over Puyallup, Union can accept a few pats on the back now.
“I think we finally earned a little of it,” Shepard said.
Junior guard Tuileisu Anderson bounced back from first-half foul trouble to lead all Titan scorers with 25 points. Senior Kendra Preuninger, who scored all of her points from beyond the arc, finished with nine and her shooting aided the Titans in their third-quarter comeback.
Union (18-6), which clinched a berth to the regional round, continues on with a Saturday afternoon game in against Mount Rainier at Auburn High School. Tip-off for that bi-district championship semifinal is 4:15 p.m.
“It’s like we said all year, it takes 12 kids,” Shepard said. “Twelve kids who are ready to step in when they’re called upon.”
The statement was true Friday night when Anderson — who drilled a pair of 3-pointers to give Union an early 6-5 advantage — picked up her second foul at the 4:01 mark of the first quarter. Roughly three minutes later, senior Emily Rowe also headed to the bench with two fouls. With two starters out of the game, Union fell behind 14-6 after the first quarter.
In that first half, in which Union trailed 23-21 at the break, Puyallup ruled the paint and collected 10 offensive rebounds against the smallish Titans. However, after making a few defensive tweaks, Union continued chipping away at the lead.
When Preuninger hit a triple with 4:32 remaining in the third, Union had its first lead since early in the first quarter. Then, Anderson, now playing with three fouls, followed with a 3-pointer of her own. On the next possession, Anderson stole the ball that led to another Preuninger three to give the Titans the 35-30 lead.
“If I don’t see anyone in front of me,” Preuninger said. “I’ll take that.”
However, Preuninger wasn’t the only Titan who was cooking. Anderson scored 12 points in the quarter and Union entered the final frame up 43-35.
Still, Anderson points to the team’s defensive rebounding that sparked the comeback.
“We were just making sure that they didn’t get anymore boards,” said Anderson, whose team limited Puyallup to just one offensive rebound through the second half.
UNION 54, PUYALLUP 46
UNION — Tessa Vanderpool 1, Tuileisu Anderson 25, Kendra Preuninger 9, Katie Burbank 3, Jessica Chatman 8, Emily Rowe 8. Totals 20 7-15 54.
PUYALLUP — Haley McCann 4, Haley Smoot 1, Kasey Balmer 5, Braylie Jeffers 7, Sarah Steimle 2, Marissa Miller 25, Addie Picha 2. Totals 16 12-16 46.
Union 6 15 22 11–54
Puyallup 14 9 12 11–46