TACOMA – In the hallways of Wilson High School, there was only one sound louder than the postgame music in the nearby gymnasium.
That was the cheering in the Union girls basketball team’s locker room.
Union made a big noise Saturday in the bi-district tournament, beating Rogers of Puyallup 50-36 to hand the Rams just their second loss of the season.
The win guarantees the Titans a berth in the regional round of the 4A state tournament. Union (18-4) next faces Decatur in the bi-district semifinals on Thursday in Tacoma.
At No. 7 in the state RPI rankings, Union’s win over the No. 3 Rams is a big step toward clinching a top-eight seed and automatic passage to the final 12 of the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
But Union coach Gary Mills isn’t banking on a top eight seed yet.
“Where we are in the RPI, we really have to win another one to give us confidence that we’re going to stay in the top eight,” Mills said.
Rogers (20-2) entered Saturday averaging more than 65 points per game. Saturday, Union stifled the Rams with a defense that saw Rogers miss 16 of its final 19 field goal attempts.
Union outscored Rogers 20-4 in the fourth quarter, when Rogers shot 2 for 15.
“They’re really good 3-point shooters, so we knew had to come out and guard the 3-point line,” Union guard Mason Oberg said. “We had to do whatever we could to take it out of their hands and make them drive. That was key to winning this game.”
Mills singled out the defensive effort of Lolo Witherspoon, who held Rogers’ leading scorer Raigan Barrett to 13 points.
“Lolo Weatherspoon has held people below their season averages all year,” Mills said. “She’s just sticky and annoying.”
Union led by as much as 20-13 in the first half, but Rogers closed within 22-21 at halftime.
Neither team led by more than four points in the third quarter. Rogers hit a shot early in the fourth quarter to take a 34-30 lead.
It was all Union from there.
Oberg, who had a game-high 21 points, hit one of her three 3-pointers to spark the Titans. Abby Kaip then followed with a driving basket to give Union a lead it would never relinquish.
Witherspoon made a basket while fouled to put Union ahead 41-36 with 1:54 to play. Rogers continued to miss from the field and was forced to foul. Oberg helped put the game away by making five of six free throw attempts in the final 1:30.
When the final buzzer sounded, Union’s players bounced in celebration near midcourt.
“It shows that we’re resilient and at our best game we can play with anybody,” Oberg said. “It’s exciting that our team comes out with energy and it doesn’t matter who we play. We’re going to get it done.”
UNION 50, ROGERS 36
UNION (18-4) – Lexi Raymore 1, Mason Oberg 21, Lolo Witherspoon 8, Abbey Kaip 9, Mackenzie Lewis 8, Sarah Litchford 3, Ariel Amentorp 0. Totals 16 (4) 14-20 50.
ROGERS (20-2) – Jazmyne Lilly 5, Raigan Barrett 13, Allyson Pettit, 0, Karinna Tell 4, Rachel Wicker 0, Kelly Bjorn 0, Jenai Ancheta 13, Madison Bjorn 0, Alexa Caufield 1. Totals 14 (4) 4-6 36.
Union 11 11 8 20—50
Rogers 9 12 11 4—36