At this point in the season, undefeated through 16 games and a No. 1 ranking in the latest Class 4A RPI standings, the Union boys basketball team has passed every test thrown their way.
Even what head coach Blake Conley called one of their toughest tests to date Tuesday in a 72-58 home victory over Skyview.
The win concludes the first half of 4A Greater St. Helens League play for both teams.
Tanner Toolson scored 29 points as one of three Union players in double figures. Kaden Horn added 16, including two buzzer-beating field goals to end the first and second quarters. Brad Lackey added 15, with nine coming in the third quarter when Union’s lead blossomed to 20 at one point.
Of Union’s 10 3s, four came from Horn off the bench on 4 of 6 shooting from behind the arc. The junior is a Mountain View transfer who led the Thunder in scoring as a sophomore to earn all-3A GSHL honors. He’s adjusted thus far to his role, even if it’s coming off the bench like he did Tuesday.
“I was ready for it,” Horn said. “I think I fit in really well with my shooting and I love how the (Conley) coaches me.
“I get all the open shots I need.”
Union (16-0 overall, 4-0 league) is on pace for consecutive undefeated regular seasons. Of its 16 games, they’ve scored 87 or more points in nine of them.
Tuesday, though, no Union lead felt comfortable.
Not a 31-24 halftime lead, and especially not its first 20-point advantage at 53-33 because by the time it reached 5:18 left in the fourth quarter, Skyview (11-5 overall, 1-3 league) pulled within seven.
It did so with defense.
Back-to-back steals by the Storm, including a steal and layin by Squeeky Johnson (15 points) pull them within their closest deficit since early in the first quarter at 60-53.
Union felt “100 percent” of the momentum was on Skyview’s side, Conley said, and when comfort and sloppiness came into play by Union, Skyview “made us pay.”
But a battle-tested game for 32 minutes can only help the Titans moving forward.
“We need to feel that because we’re going to feel it down the stretch, and feel it in the playoffs and in the rest of league,” the coach said.
Skyview got no closer than 60-53 the rest of the way. Five straight points by Horn on consecutive possessions quickly built the lead back to double digits at 65-53.
Kyle Gruhler led Skyview with 19 points.
Skyview is ranked 10th in RPI, and Tuesday’s loss sends the Storm to their third loss in four games. At 1-3 in league, Skyview now sits fourth in league.
For Horn, this ride is definitely special as Union etches closer to the postseason aiming for another undefeated regular-season.
“We’re all brothers and we’re all so close,” he said. “I feel like that’s why we do so well. Our team work and we all cheer for each other, no matter what.”
UNION 72, SKYVIEW 58
SKYVIEW — Mehkai Brooks 2, Squeeky Johnson 15, Xavier Owens 0, Soren Hopper 0, Sean Boss 4, Jaxson Faile 0, Cole Bain 0, Alec Marshall 7, Kyle Gruhler 19, Jace Chatman 9, Cody McKinney 4. Totals 23 (5) 11-16 58
UNION — Aiden Liss 0, Brad Lackey 15, Ty McCullum 6, Tanner Toolson 29, Mason Hill 4, Izaiah Vongnath 0, Ariya Briscoe 0, Josh Reznick 2, Kaden Horn 16, Connor Flannigan 0, Spencer McGuire 0. Totals 28 (10) 6-8 72
Skyview 9 15 15 19—58
Union 21 12 22 17—72