TACOMA – Bryson Metz’s first trip to the state tournament with the Union basketball team didn’t end like he had hoped, but the senior wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Metz scored a team-high 18 points as the Titans fell to Olympia 57-48 in the third-place game Saturday at the 4A boys basketball state tournament. The Titans took home the fifth-place trophy.
“Just coming over to Union is the best thing I could have ever done,” said the senior who transferred to Union from King’s Way Christian after his sophomore season. “I fit right in with this group, even last year’s team. It was an incredible experience that I don’t take for granted. I learned so much from the coaching staff, and the relationships I made will last a lifetime.”
The Titans wear the word “Brothers” on the back of their warmup T-shirts, and Metz said that’s more than just a slogan.
“It’s more than words,” Metz said. “It’s everything we go by, and it shows in the way we play and the way we bond together. Whether it’s basketball or just hanging out, we just love each other as brothers.”
For a second consecutive day, the Titans got off to a slow start that they could not recover from.
After Metz gave Union an early 2-0 lead, Olympia ran off 11 consecutive points, eventually taking a 15-5 lead in the first quarter. From there, Union never got any closer than seven points.
“We’re not a high-powered scoring offense, so giving up 20 points in the first quarter put us in a really big hole,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “Defensive, we’ve been really good all year. But that first quarter really made things hard for us.”
Yanni Fassillis and Porter Hill added 12 points each for the Titans.
“We fell a little bit short of our goals,” Metz said. “But it’s not the games you remember. It’s the van rides. It’s all the things we do outside of basketball that you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. And I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity.”
Coach Blake Conley said he was unsure how this year’s squad would bond after the abbreviated COVID season last year.
“I didn’t know how the guys would respond to each other or how much of the Union culture they’d be able to continue,” Conley said. “We had to start from scratch. But it was so cool to see the seniors taking the young players under their wings. Not just the play on the court or coming here, but the camaraderie and the unity this group had, it felt like we didn’t miss a step. … It’s a season I’ll remember for a long time.”
And speaking of family, Conley can now turn his full attention to his own family. Conley’s wife is expected to give birth to the couple’s second child on Sunday.
“I’m really excited,” Conley said. “It’s amazing that I have a supportive basketball wife, who encouraged me to go do this. She knows how much it means to our whole family and these boys.”
Conley said he was constantly checking his phone this week for updates and had contingency plans in place in case the baby decided to make a fastbreak.
“I’m happy my kid didn’t come early so I could have this experience with this group of guys,” Conley said.
OLYMPIA 57, UNION 48
OLYMPIA (26-6) — Caden Roth 12, Andreas Engholm 15, Shea Byrnes 0, Mason Juergens 5, Drew Carlson 6, Connor Johnson 0, Parker Fouts 0, Matt Lindblom 0, Parker Gerrits 9, Wesley Brewer 0, Cameron Downing 0, Cree Barna 10. Totals 23-39 (5-12) 6-12 57.
UNION (20-7) — Kindrick Aragon 0, Jamison Limbrick 0, Bryson Metz 18, Evan Eschels 6, Samair Thompson 0, Porter Hill 12, Ethan Carter 0, Tucker Dunseth 0, Evan Manville 0, Yanni Fassillis 12, Josiah Baldassare 0. Totals 17-45 (4-16) 10-15 48.
Olympia 20 11 12 14—57
Union 13 8 7 20—48