AUBURN — The Union Titans won enough games when it mattered that losing their last two does not matter a whole bunch.
The Titans will go to the Class 4A girls basketball regionals on a losing streak, but at least they still have a shot to get to the Tacoma Dome for the state tournament and the elite eight.
Anushka Maldonado scored 13 of her 28 points in the fourth quarter, leading Yelm to a 52-51 comeback victory over Union on Monday at Auburn High School, claiming the No. 3 seed from the bi-district tournament. Union had to settle for the No. 4 seed.
Jessica Chatman scored 19 points and Tuileisu Anderson had 16 to lead the Titans, who lost a seven-point lead in the final four minutes of the game.
“We had control, we made some mistakes, and we lost it in the end,” Union coach Roger Shepard said. “It doesn’t take away from the growth this team has had.”
Union finished second in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League, then won the district tournament.
“There are four leagues here and the four league (or district) champions made it to the final four. We lost to two league champions,” Shepard said. “We need games like that. We need a challenge in order to grow.”
Just by making the final four in the championship bracket of the bi-district, Union secured a spot among the final 16 in the state.
The Titans will face Gonzaga Prep of Spokane at 6 p.m. Friday at Rogers High School in Puyallup. The winner will advance to the Tacoma Dome.
In theory, a win Monday would have given Union a better draw to state. But it’s a winner-take-all game Friday regardless.
Maldonado connected on three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two from beyond 25 feet, to help the Tornados rally.
Union led 46-39 midway through the fourth quarter on Katie Burbank’s 3-pointer.
Yelm, though, would score the next 10 points.
Union’s Tessa Vanderpool tied the game at 49 with 48 seconds to play, but Maldonado buried a long 3-pointer with 33 seconds to play for the three-point lead.
Emily Rowe’s offensive rebound and putback made it 52-51 but a missed free throw with 9 seconds remaining and kept the score there.
Union did not get a shot off for a win after a missed free throw by Yelm.
YELM 52, UNION 51
YELM — Tessa Matthews 12, Dalia Bader 2, Karli Shaw 3, Anushka Maldonado 28, McKenzie DeVore 3, McKaela Tyler 4, Kelsey Alwine 0. Totals 18 (8) 8-13 52.
UNION — Tessa Vanderpool 2, Tuileisu Anderson 16, Kendra Preuninger 5, Katie Burbank 3, Hannah O’Donnell 0, Katherine Williams 0, Jessica Chatman 19, Emily Rowe 6. Totals 21 (5) 4-9 51.
Yelm 10 13 11 18–52
Union 10 11 14 16–51