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4A boys basketball: Union beats Woodinville for third place at state

Hawken has double-double in victory

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: March 7, 2015, 12:00am

TACOMA — The third-place trophy was the bonus.

For the Union Titans, their game Saturday was so much more than a piece of hardware.

It was a chance to play one last game together, an opportunity to win their last game together.

Union earned the third-place trophy at the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament, rolling past Woodinville 69-45 at the Tacoma Dome.

Riley Hawken had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Cameron Cranston made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, and Micah Paulson finished his memorable season with 11 points for the Titans, who completed the campaign 24-2.

“It’s the best experience I’ve had in my entire life,” said Hawken, a virtual lock for the all-tournament team after his three games in the dome. “We got to play on the last day of the Washington state tournament. I got to continue to build relationships and memories with these guys, and that means a lot more than any trophy.”

Paulson said he got emotional at halftime, just thinking about the end of his high school career. He is undecided about where he will play in college, but he said it will never be the same as his time with Union’s basketball program. Paulson was the 4A Greater St. Helens League’s player of the year.

“We’ve been fighting for the last three years of our high school careers, knowing we came up short every year. We were not coming up short this year,” Paulson said. “Getting to the dome meant everything to me.”

He added how proud he was of his team for rallying Friday in the semifinals. Union trailed by 19 before tying the game in an eventual three-point loss to Federal Way.

“It shows how hard our team works,” Paulson said. “We don’t have any Division I scholarship offers.”

Not yet, but Cranston is a sophomore. The future looks strong for Union.

“Keep the legacy that these guys built,” Cranston said of the team’s goals for next season and beyond. “We’ve got to be the new leaders. Some of the best leaders I’ve ever known are on this team.”

Cranston made two 3-pointers scored eight points in the first quarter Saturday. Hawken had six points in the second quarter, and the Titans went into halftime up six.

Then it was all Titans in the second half.

Hawken scored eight points in the third quarter as the lead stretched to 15.

Paulson buried a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Union’s performance in the third-place game is more impressive considering the huge letdown after Friday’s loss in the semifinals.

“This game is about character, heart, and resiliency,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “I knew they were going to come out and play hard. I knew they were going to come out and play together. That’s the character of this team. To be able to come out here and do it one more time is a great testimony to the kids’ great mental toughness.”

Hawken and the Titans just did not want to feel the sting of defeat again.

“We were all kind of saying, last chance, go out with a bang,” Hawken said. “We’re not going to end our season with a loss.”

UNION 69, WOODINVILLE 45

WOODINVILLE — Mitchell Jones 1, Micah Johnson 0, Peyton Chester 0, Demetri Ilias 4, Jesse Davis 8, Lance Coomar 4, Michael Roth 0, Taylor Merry 0, Tony Miller 28, Kyle Cooper 0, Zach Oates 0, Adam Taplett 0. Totals 13-54 (4-21) 15-19 45.

UNION — Keithan Shepard 0, Brennan Paulson 3, Cole Weatherspoon 2, Micah Paulson 11, Carson Brucher 0, Nico Bricker 2, Nick Simkins 2, Thomas Lampkin Jr. 8, Cameron Cranston 17, Riley Hawken 20, Denis Kirichencko 2, Stephan Ammentorp 2. Totals 26-45 (7-19) 10-16 69.

Woodinville 9 16 9 11–45

Union 16 15 18 20–69

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter