An early fire alarm didn’t douse the Union Titans to start the playoffs, it only ignored them.
It might’ve taken until the second half for momentum to get on the Titans’ side for good, but once it did, it cruised to a 75-56 home victory over Kentlake at home in Wednesday’s opening round of the 4A bi-district boys basketball tournament.
Kaden Horn had a game-high 21 points, Tanner Toolson added 19 as the Titans remain undefeated to advance to Thursday’s winner-to-regional game against Olympia. Tip-off is 6 p.m. at Tacoma’s Wilson High School.
The start of Wednesday’s game at Union got delayed 15 minutes after a fire alarm forced the gymnasium’s evacuation minutes before teams took the floor for warmups.
It was a false alarm, but it took awhile for fire to hit the Titans as far as shooting goes.
Union’s 30-27 halftime lead was anything but comfortable, as Kentlake’s (12-9) outside shooting kept the Falcons neck-and-neck with Class 4A’s top-seeded team in RPI for two quarters.
But the final 5 minutes of the third quarter is when momentum swung in Union’s favor for good. The Titans shot a sizzling 8 of 10 on 3-pointers — a trio from Horn, two by Ariya Briscoe and one apiece from Toolson, Izaiah Vongnath (14 points) and Mason Hill (3 points). A 32-all tie quickly bloomed to Union’s 55-41 to start the fourth quarter. Briscoe had eight of his nine points in that third quarter.
Union’s largest lead came at 67-47.
Vongnath, who went 4 of 5 from 3-point range Wednesday, said that run was key to get the offense into a groove.
“That’s when we’re at our best,” he said, “when we have that momentum and everybody is finding the open man.”
At 5 feet 5, Vongnath came off the bench to have one of his more productive games of the season. It’s no surprise for head coach Blake Conley, adding Vongnath is shooting 44 percent from 3-point range on the season.
“He’s one of our best shooters,” the coach said.
The Titans hit 15 3s as a team.
At 21-0, the Titans have had close, down-to-the-wire games as of late, including two of its final three 4A Greater St. Helens League games against Battle Ground and Skyview. Those games, coupled with a stiff test from Kentlake to open the playoffs can only help them moving forward, Vongnath said.
“This is high school basketball, and close games is what we live for,” Vongnath said. “This is what makes us better coming into the postseason. We’re really trying to go all the way, so these help us get ready for our path.”
UNION 75, KENTLAKE 56
UNION (21-0) — Aiden Liss 0, Ty McCullum 5, Tanner Toolson 19, Mason Hill 3, Izaiah Vongnath 14, Ariya Briscoe 9, Josh Reznick 2, Connor Flannagan 2, Kaden Horn 21, Spencer McGuire 0, Evan Eschels 0, Jamison Limbrick 0. Totals 27 (15) 7-14 75.
KENTLAKE (12-9) — Nahom Negusiea 2, Tyler Thompson 2, Jalen Taylor 6, Sam Morasch 11, Colin Eversole 12, Isiah Cole 8, Jaleel Walton 14, Kaleb Alberts 1. Totals 19 (9) 9-14 56.
Kentlake 14 13 14 14—56
Union 13 17 25 20—75