Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Feb. 1, 2023

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Union takes fourth place at state hoops (video)

Titans get another comeback win in the Tacoma Dome

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published:

TACOMA — The Union Titans gave a state championship-worthy effort after it was impossible to win a state championship.

That’s how the team got to roll home to Clark County with a fourth-place trophy and two wins at the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament.

The Titans rallied from a second-half deficit for the second day in a row, topping Issaquah 60-57 in the fourth-place game Saturday morning in the Tacoma Dome.

Nico Bricker’s steal and assist to Keithen Shepard with 95 seconds to play gave Union its first lead of the game, and it gave the Titans another memory.

Union trailed by 12 points in the second half against the Eagles, a day after rallying from eight points down in the final three minutes to beat Lewis and Clark.

Titans rally to win for second day in a row at Tacoma Dome Video

“We’re just such great friends out there,” Shepard said. “Everyone trusts each other. We know we have to do whatever it takes. We have each other’s backs.”

“All of us had no doubts in our minds,” Bricker said. “We knew if we could just keep chipping away, chipping away at the lead, we were going to get back in this game.”

The Titans made 9 of their first 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to get closer. Denis Kirichenko’s basket made it 55-54, but Issaquah would take a 57-54 lead on a Tanner Davis score with 3:23 to play.

That was it for Issaquah.

Bricker scored to make it a one-point game. Cameron Cranston, who led Union with 20 points, made a free throw with 1:48 to play to tie.

That set up The Working Man, as his teammates describe Bricker.

“We been practicing that press all year. I read the steal coming. I got a good bounce on the ball,” Bricker said, noting how close he and the ball were to being out of bounds. “I saw Shep going down the floor … he made an amazing man-finish.”

Shepard preferred giving credit to Bricker.

“That was all him. We call him The Working Man. He does everything out there. He does work,” Shepard said. “He made a great play for us like he always does.”

Kirichenko followed with another one, blocking Issaquah’s next shot. The two teams exchanged turnovers, leading to a Cranston free throw with 9 seconds to play to put Union up by three.

Shepard tried to foul Issaquah’s Jason Crandall before he attempted a 3-pointer. The officials did not see it. Crandall took an off-balance shot, hoping for some help, but after the no-call, Union got the rebound for the win.

Union coach Blake Conley confirmed the strategy was to foul, but he wasn’t complaining.

Instead, he praised his players. The Titans did not want to be here Saturday morning. They wanted a later game, in the championship round.

“It’s the teams that are unified … those are the teams that win consolation games,” Conley said.

Issaquah jumped out to an 18-5 lead in the first quarter. Union had a big second quarter to get within four at the half. The Eagles started hot again in the third quarter, scoring the first nine points. The lead grew to 12 with 2:46 to play in the third quarter.

The Titans, well, they did what they do.

“It’s the highest we could get after losing on Thursday,” Bricker said, holding the fourth-place trophy. “It wasn’t the goal on Thursday. After Thursday, it was the goal. It’s great that the guys could refocus.”

“Any time you can play on Saturday, play on the last day, it’s a great accomplishment,” Shepard said. “It shows the toughness in our guys to battle back.”

Note: This is Union’s fifth appearance at a dome for the final week of the boys basketball season. The Titans now have five trophies: 3A: 7th in 2009, and 1st in 2010. 4A: 3rd in 2012, 3rd in 2015, and 4th in 2016

UNION 60, ISSAQUAH 57

ISSAQUAH — Tanner Davis 6, Scott Kellum 12, Jason Crandall 4, Trevon Ary-Turner 19, Jack Dellinger 13, Dane Mui 0, Ethan Hammond 0, Dominic Postle 3. Totals 24 (60) 3-12 57.

UNION — Keithen Shepard 9, Brennan Paulson 3, Zach Reznick 2, Tyler Combs 5, Carson Brucher 0, Nico Bricker 12, Christian Agarpo 0, Kai Gamble 2, Cameron Cranston 20, Denis Kirichenko 7. Totals 19 (5) 17-23 60.

Issaquah    20    11    19    7—57
Union    8    19    16    17—60

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter