BATTLE GROUND — The Union boys basketball team was looking forward to facing off with Battle Ground’s Gonzaga-bound star Kaden Perry.
But that didn’t happen Tuesday, and by the looks of it, it won’t happen at all this season.
Perry suffered a back injury in a game against Prairie last Thursday, and Battle Ground coach Manny Melo said Tuesday he does not expect his star post to play again this season.
“There’s just not a lot of time left,” Melo said. “Our season will be over before we know it, so I don’t see it happening. … He’s heartbroken. I’m heartbroken. Everyone’s heartbroken.”
With Perry out, it took the inside of Battle Ground’s inside-outside defensive plan against Union out of play.
When the Tigers extended their defense to challenge Union’s 3-point shooters, the Titans just attacked the rim, going on a 32-4 run in the first half en route to 90-60 win on Tuesday.
“A guy like (Perry) changes the game in every aspect,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “We definitely took advantage of not having a 6-9 monster athlete down there to attack the rim.”
Kaden Horn paced the Titans with 23 points, including 14 during the Titans’ decisive run. Byson Metz scored 16 points, and Ariya Briscoe added 12, all in the first half on drives to the hoop.
“We were just taking what they were giving us,” senior Izaiah Vongnath said. “If they were going to face-guard me and Kaden, then we were going to pinch the gaps and get all of our teammates involved.”
Melo said Perry was injured on an ordinary play. The senior was going to block a shot when his back seized up and he went down. Perry was not at the game on Tuesday.
“He’s still at home in bed,” Melo said.
Without Perry, the Tigers hung tough with the Titans for a quarter before Union’s first 3-pointer – by Horn – put Union up 16-13 to end the first period.
The Titans would stretch that advantage to 45-17 by late in the second quarter.
Battle Ground was led Tuesday by two freshmen — Tait Spencer scored 12 points, and Trey Spencer added 11.
But the Titans were looking forward to facing Perry.
“That’s so unfortunate,” Conley said of Perry’s injury. “The kid has been such a huge part of Battle Ground. His loyalty and the way he plays, it was an honor to get to coach against him. It’s so unfortunate that he doesn’t get to leave on his terms. But I know that big things are ahead, and he’ll make Southwest Washington very proud.”
UNION 90, BATTLE GROUND 60
UNION — Kaden Horn 23, Izaiah Vongnath 6, Ariya Briscoe 12, Jake Bowen 7, Kaden Lewis 5, Evan Eschels 0, Bryson Metz 15, Jack Tanner-Johnson 0, Evan Manville 9, Tobias Merriweather 2, Jamison Limbrick 0, Porter Hill 7, Josiah Baldassare 0. Totals 36 (9) 9-13 90.
BATTLE GROUND — Gage Hay 2, Bishop Straube 0, Max Ramirez 4, Cole Billingsley 9, Cassius Davis 7, Tait Spencer 12, Trey Spencer 11, Ty Robertson 8, Noah Currie 7. Totals 24 (8) 4-6 60.
Union 16 31 26 15—90
B.Ground 13 9 18 20—60