Owning the paint from the start, the Union Titans jumped into the Class 4A bi-district tournament on Thursday with a dominating performance.
Junior posts Riley Hawken and Isaiah Robinson combined for 31 points and the Titans’ defense made things difficult for visiting Auburn in a 69-35 win.
“It gives us some momentum. Were going to go into out next game feeling good, but staying humble at the same time,” said Hawken, who scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half as the Titans built 14-point lead.
The win advances Union (15-7) to the bi-district quarterfinals on Saturday. It will face Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma at 4:30 p.m. in a game at Auburn High School.
By taking advantage of their height, the Titans made sure Auburn’s visit to Vancouver on Thursday would be frustrating.
“We were really focused tonight,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “Our guards did a good job of getting the ball to the posts. Our posts did a good job getting open. It was a really good team game tonight.”
Micah Paulson and Hawken each scored two baskets in an 8-0 burst midway through the first quarter that set an early tone.
The Titans were able to penetrate, or find their posts for easy shots. Union had 12 layups or post-move baskets before halftime.
“Coaches (Todd) Spike and Conley told us that they weren’t going to be that strong in the post, so they just made sure that we went down there,” Robinson said.
The 6-foot-8 Robinson had at least six blocked shots, putting him over 100 blocked shots on the season, helping force Auburn to try to keep pace from the perimeter.
Paulson scored 13 points and helped establish Union’s dominance with several early assists.
Any chance of the Trojans making it a contest ended in the third quarter. Robinson had eight points as the Titans outscored the visitors 19-6 in a period that closed with a 9-0 burst that included a Robinson dunk and a Paulson 3-pointer.
But it was the defense that most pleased Conley.
“I thought the defensive effort was really good tonight,” the Union coach said. “I thought we did a good job of contesting shots, and I thought we did a good job of dominating the paint. We wanted to do that and we knew we could do that.”
UNION 69, AUBURN 35
AUBURN — Marquise Prater 8, Dar’Trae Memster 0, Jason Momi 4, JJ ruffin 4, Rio Paul 6, Josh Callero 5, Wally Abbas 0, Mut Chuol 0, Jeff Borchers 1, Malik Williams 3, Dom Ecklund 3, Tyler Pray 1. Totals 12 (4) 7-17 35.
UNION — Derrick Derryberry 4, Cole Weatherspoon 0, Micah Paulson 13, Denis Kirichenko 0, Austin Brown 7, Leon Siofele 0, Skillful Davis 5, Isaiah Robinson 12, Riley Hawken 19, Cameron Cranston 3, Spencer Martin 4, Stephen Ammentorp 2. Totals 30 (4) 5-8 69.
Auburn 10 12 6 7–35
Union 17 19 19 14–69