PUYALLUP — The Union girls basketball team knew it was in for a battle against Gonzaga Prep.
The Titans also understood that success in the regional round of the state playoffs requires shot making. They understand it even better after Friday’s 48-39 loss to the Bullpups ended Union’s season.
Union shot 25 percent in the second half, and went scoreless over the first 6:28 of the fourth quarter when the game got away.
“We had an off night,” said Jessica Chatman, who led the Titans with 13 points. “If we had just had an on night, we could have done it.”
Gonzaga Prep (24-3) advances to the Tacoma Dome for the Class 4A quarterfinals. The most successful season for Union girls basketball ended with 18 wins and nine losses.
“To be one game away from the dome is a great season,” Union coach Roger Shepard said. “Our kids are disappointed. I think they realize they’re just going to have to keep working harder. We’re going to keep trying.”
A win was within reach into the fourth quarter on Friday. Gonzaga Prep led by just six points during a four-minute stretch when neither team scored. The Titans missed a layup and two open 3-pointers that might have turned the game their way.
“We were getting looks,” Shepard said. “Sometimes that’s the pain of this game. It’s unforgiving.”
The Bullpups finally pulled away with seven quick points in just over a minute to lead by 13 with two minutes left.
Union didn’t score a fourth-quarter point until Tuileisu Anderson’s 3-pointer with 1:32 left in the game.
Gonzaga Prep didn’t shoot any better than Union, but the Bullpups scored 22 points on layups, and were helped by 24 Union turnovers.
Otiona Gildon scored 13 points to lead Gonzaga Prep, including the first six points of the game. Sophomore Laura Stockton, daughter of John Stockton, had 10 points.
Gonzaga Prep hustled to a 14-2 lead thanks to five layups, and led 17-6 at the end of a first quarter that featured eight Union turnovers.
The Titans defensive tenacity and offensive aggression picked up in the second quarter, and Union surged back into the game. The Titans scored the first 11 points of the second quarter and led 22-21 after a Chatman 3-pointer 50 seconds before halftime.
Gonzaga Prep scored the first seven points of the second half and never again trailed, though the margin was only four points entering the fourth quarter.
“We knew it was going to be hard. We came here and worked our hardest,” Katie Burbank, one of three Union seniors, said. “We’re just so grateful for the opportunity that we had. We’re district champions. It’s the first time Union girls basketball has won anything.”
Both Shepard and Chatman agreed that this was a significant stepping stone for the program.
“It makes (the state tournament) so much more tangible and real for us,” Chatman, one of seven Titan juniors, said. “And we know that next year is our last year to really make a difference in the Union program, and so, we’ll come out strong next year and remember this game and how it felt.”
GONZAGA PREP 48, UNION 39
UNION (18-9) — Tessa Vanderpool 0, Tuileisu Anderson 9, Kendra Preuninger 6, Molly Petrie 2, Katie Burbank 9, Hannah O’Donnell 0, Katherine Williams 0, Jessica Chatman 13, Emily Rowe 0. Totals: 14-41 (5-22) 6-6 39.
GONZAGA PREP (23-3) — Otiona Giildon 13, Laura Stockton 10, Hannah Caudill 3, Mary Hoffman 2, Oona Harrington 1, Kayla Leyland 9, Lauren Weir 2, Shannon Metzger 2, Wendy Gregory 6, Clare Cozza 0, Madison Wright 0. Totals: 18-56 (2-13) 11-18 48.
Union 6 16 9 8–39
Gonzaga Prep 17 5 13 14–48