It’s the big games and big moments that bring out the best in Yanni Fassilis.
Can you tell the fierce demeanor of the Union High School senior intensifies with every possession like it did Friday night against Camas in a battle of the 4A Greater St. Helens’ top two boys basketball teams?
Especially in the fourth quarter, when Union rallied back and held the Papermakers scoreless the final four-plus minutes while taking back control for good?
“I get fired up,” Fassilis said postgame. “I get into a zone and I get so excited.
“These are the games we live for.”
And like he has in so many games in a Union uniform, Fassilis delivered. On Friday, he poured in a game-high 31 points and tied a school record with 18 rebounds to lead the Titans to a 76-65 on a night where the atmosphere inside a hot Union High School gymnasium had the full playoff-vibe effect.
And, atmospheres like Friday, are what makes the rivalry so good, Fassilis said.
“It’s the students, it’s the schools,” he said. “They make it, we don’t make it. They do.”
But it was Union that capitalized on that fuel to win its seventh straight game, despite adversity pregame and in-game Friday.
First, on Thursday, senior Evan Manville injured his ankle on the same leg that kept him out most of last season. That meant a shuffle in the starting lineup. Then, in-game, Union lost a 15-point first-half lead to a hot-shooting Camas (15-5, 4-1) team that felt like it couldn’t miss from 3-point range all night. In fact, the Papermakers had 13 of their 14 3-pointers through three quarters. Beckett Currie (26 points) had eight of them.
As one of the anchors of last season’s state-bound Titans team that reached the 4A state semifinals, the 6-foot-4 Fassilis has taken on a new role as a senior. Technically, he’s a small forward, yet more often than not, he’s asked to do more when it comes to ball handling and facilitating. He finished with four assists.
That showed multiple times Friday, including down the stretch in a back-and-forth second half when no lead was greater than five in the opening 11 minutes. He hit Josiah Baldassare for a corner 3-pointer that kick-started a 13-0 scoring run by Union to end the game.
Before that, momentum was in Camas’ hands. It led 62-57 the opening 90 seconds of the fourth quarter before Union flipped a switch.
“We went into a time out and Coach was saying, ‘Stay together, stay together.’ That’s been us the whole season staying together,” said Tucker Dunseth, a junior, who had 18 points Friday. “And we had guys step up and get it done.
Dunseth was one of them. He started in place of the injured Manville, and seven of his 18 points came in the final 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Camas and Union are still in control of their destiny when it comes to league titles and bi-district seeding. Camas can win its first outright league title since 2011 with a victory over Battle Ground on Tuesday to close out the regular-season. A win by Union over Skyview on Tuesday and a Camas loss means Camas and Union share the league crown for a second straight season.
UNION 76, CAMAS 65
CAMAS — Beckett Currie 26, Konnor Limnell 12, Matthew Chilian 6, Theo McMillan 3, Josh Daasinskas 13, Jamison Carlisle 4, Ethan Harris 1. Totals 20 (14) 7-9 65.
UNION — Nolan Frazier 0, Grayson Stanley 4, Josiah Baldassare 9, Samair THompson 4, Koby Holcomb 10, Yanni Fassilis 31, Tucker Dunseth 18. Totals 28 (8) 12-22 76.
Camas 14 26 20 5—65
Union 24 14 17 20—76