TACOMA — The Union Titans have reached the Class 4A state semifinals for the second time in three seasons but before focusing on their next opponent, they want to enjoy the moment.
“We’re soaking it in right now,” senior Keithen Shepard said moments after Union topped Kenney Catholic 73-49 in the quarterfinals Thursday. “We’ll start worrying about (Richland) later today.”
That is part of Union’s philosophy, to celebrate each day’s accomplishments, to cherish the journey. Together.
Cameron Cranston recorded 18 points, Shepard had a career-high 17, and four Titans scored in double figures in the Tacoma Dome.
Union (20-4) will take on Richland (20-5) at 3:45 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
The Titans took care of the Lancers with a dominating second quarter to go up by 16 at the half. They cruised from there.
It was close for a quarter. Matthew Sasonoff had all 10 of Kennedy Catholic’s 10-2 run to end the first period, closing within three points of the Titans.
Union took off from there, roaring to the final four.
Cranston opened the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers.
“I just always have a knack for answering,” Cranston said. “They made some shots. I knew we needed some shots. I just took the open ones. My teammates found me, and I was hitting it.”
Shepard followed with a basket, and Tyler Combs found the bottom of the net on a 3-pointer. Quinn Lamey would get the next two points, off an assist from Cranston. Combs made two free throws.
Just like that, a three-point game was an 18-point Union lead.
Kennedy Catholic went more than five minutes without a point.
“I think our defense was really locked in,” Union coach Blake Conley said.
With a 16-point lead at the half, the Titans reminded themselves that the game was not over.
“Just like we could get up on them, they could come back,” Cranston said. “We knew we had to keep doing what we were doing. Solid defense would take care of it from there.”
Plus a bit of a boost on offense from Zach Reznick. He scored all 11 of his points in the second half after struggling in the first half.
“We always tell the guys, ‘If you’re a shooter, you’re going to have a bad half.’ Shooters shoot,” Conley said. “He did a great job of keeping his confidence.”
Shepard’s confidence soars at the dome. This is the second year in a row he has scored a career high in Tacoma.
“I don’t know what it is. It’s so fun playing here,” Shepard said.
He credited his teammates.
“When I have shooters all around me, it really spaces out the floor. Everyone has to pay attention to Cam, Zach, and Tyler, and I just find my way,” Shepard said. “It makes my job easy.”
Combs finished with 13 points.
The Titans had 19 assists, as well, with Shepard and Cranston tying for team honors with five apiece.
Cranston, the Washington coaches association’s 4A state player of the year, made four 3-pointers in his 18-point performance to go with nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots.
Next up is Richland.
“I can honestly say I’ve never coached against a 7-3 kid before,” Conley said, referring to Richland’s Riley Sorn, who had eight blocked shots in the quarterfinals. “We’re playing really well. They’re playing really well. I know our kids are going to come out and compete.”
“We just have to keep the momentum going,” Cranston said.
UNION 73, KENNEDY CATHOLIC 49
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Emilio Mancol 3, Keannu Royster 0, Anderws Hunt 2, Daeshawn Wison 4, Trevor Hoffman 8, Matthew Sasonoff 20, Ben Gaoteote 0, Lincoln Marino 2, Jared Thurber 8, Adam Olufson 2, Matthew Macias 0, Quinton Maxie 0. Totals 17-56 (9-32) 6-9 49.
UNION — Keithen Shepard 17, Houston Combs 0, Zach Reznick 11, Tyler Combs 13, Quinn Lamey 2, Austin Lewis 6, Jalen Brown 0, Kai Gamble 2, Cameron Cranston 18, Justin Ongley 0, Jason Franklin Jr. 2, Cole Susee 2. Totals 29-59 (11-27) 4-4 73.
Kennedy 15 5 15 14—49
Union 18 18 19 18—73