BATTLE GROUND — One by one, the Union boys basketball players climbed the ladder.
Thread by thread, they cut the strings until the net was raised in senior Nico Bricker’s triumphant hand.
It was a fitting scene to cap Union’s third consecutive 4A district title. The Titans spent Tuesday taking Evergreen apart piece by piece.
Coach Blake Conley called Union’s 83-51 win Tuesday at Battle Ground his team’s most complete game of the season. That’s saying something for a team that is now 20-2 on the season.
But then Tuesday’s showing was something to behold.
Consider that Union shot 58 percent from the field, including 8-for-18 from 3-point range.
Consider that Union outrebounded Evergreen 44-16 and collected 23 assists.
And consider that Union was so relentless, it stretched the lead to more than 40 points midway through the fourth quarter to trigger the running clock rule.
This wasn’t against a bottom-dwelling team either, as Evergreen (15-8) had won six of its last seven games, scoring at least 60 points in every game.
“We played great defense and were fluid on offense,” junior Cameron Cranston said. “We played like brothers. We played like a great team, a state team. I think that will carry over into our next games.”
When Cranston had his turn to cut at the net, the surrounding crowd chanted “M-V-P” at the 4A Greater St. Helens League player of the year.
But Cranston, who scored 13 points, didn’t need to be an MVP on Tuesday. So balanced was Union’s offense that saw 10 players score.
Bricker, a 6-foot-3 forward, led the way with 21 points. He made 10 of 14 shots, mostly from close range, and had nine rebounds.
“Every single guy on that court is a threat on offense and defense,” Bricker said. “That makes it easy for one, two or three of us to have a great game every game. You can’t leave any of us open, which is awesome.”
In 10 minutes, Union had turned a 9-8 lead into a 41-16 advantage. Evergreen never found its rhythm as Union’s defense forced 16 turnovers, including nine steals.
“With six days to prepare, these guys were laser-focused all week,” Conley said. “I had a feeling we’d come out and play really well.”
UNION 83, EVERGREEN 51
EVERGREEN (15-8) – Payton Monda 0, John Hansberry 2, Tyrus Hosley 13, Elon Freeman 2, Greg Washington 19, Shawn Johnson 0, Dustin Nettles 7, Jacob Patrick 4, Ian Cabatic 4. Totals 18 (5) 10-19 51.
UNION (20-2) – Kiethen Shepard 6, Brennan Paulson 5, Zach Reznick 9, Tyler Combs 9, Carson Brucher 0, Nico Bricker21, Austin Lewis 2, Christian Agarpo 7, Kai Gamble 2, Cameron Cranston13, Justin Ongley 0, Jason Franklin 0, Denis Kirichenko 9. Totals 34 (8) 7-11 83.
Evergreen 10 12 12 17 — 51
Union 21 26 24 12 — 83