Thursday, January 26, 2023
Jan. 26, 2023

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Union grabs much-needed 4A GSHL boys basketball win over Skyview

Defense sets the tone for the Titans in 61-41 win at home

By , Columbian staff writer

A win like Friday’s is one the Union boys basketball team hopes can get them back on track.

After dropping 4A Greater St. Helens League games to Battle Ground and Camas, the Titans bounced back with a 61-41 win over the Storm that sets them up for the back half of the league race.

With just six games on the schedule among each of the four teams in the 4A GSHL, the margin for error is miniscule. There was a sense of urgency for Union (8-6, 1-2 4A GSHL), the defending league champion, to avoid an 0-3 start and being put into a position climbing up from the the bottom of the standings.

“When you only have six league games, every game is huge. And this year, I think we’ve seen and we know anybody can beat anybody,” Union coach Blake Conley said.

“I don’t think it changed the way we played, but hopefully the focus and urgency is getting to us. Going 0-3 with the level of teams and parity this year, it wouldn’t have been a good place to be.”

18 Photos
Skyview junior Demaree Collins, right, dribbles down the court defended by Union senior Samair Thompson on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, during the Storm’s 61-41 loss to Union at Union High School.
Boys Basketball: Skyview at Union Photo Gallery

“We knew what was on the line, and we want to go as far as we can go,” Union senior Josiah Baldassare added. “From now on, we got to treat every game like a playoff game and do our best every game.”

While Union senior Yanni Fassilis scored a game-high 32 points, Baldassare added 12 and the Titans shot the ball efficiently, the bigger story of the win was the Titans’ defense.

The team has size like no other in the 4A GSHL with four starters (Fassilis, Baldassare, Kody Holcomb and Evan Manville) who stand between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-7.

Union’s combined length, energy and physicality in its zone defense limited Skyview to 16 points in the first-half and kept the Storm’s half-court offense from establishing a rhythm for much of the game.

“We flew around and were more physical than we have been against other teams. We’re the biggest team in the league and we have not played like it in the first two (league) games,” Conley said. “I thought our size and our strength showed (Friday). … Our defense, when our offense took some lulls or had too many turnovers, our defense kept us in it. That’s our anchor.”

After the Titans’ 62-54 loss to Camas on Tuesday, coaches challenged some players to elevate their play ahead of the game against Skyview. One of those players was Baldassare, who Conley noted was tough on the boards Friday and played to his role.

“Me and a couple other guys were missing easy blockouts and making the simple play,” Baldassare said of the Camas game. “Just working on simple things that we definitely needed to improve on.”

Save for the opening minutes of the first quarter, Union led Skyview wire-to-wire despite the Storm making a second-half push to get as close as six points early in the fourth quarter.

Demaree Collins, who led Skyview with 19 points, hit a 3-pointer, then grabbed a steal and layup to put Skyview within 42-36. Union responded with a Fassilis three-point play followed by a Baldassare offensive rebound and putback. One final Skyview rally got the Storm as close as seven with five minutes remaining, before Baldassare hit a 3-pointer on the other end and Fassilis added a close-range basket.

“We got to feed off the energy,” Baldassare said. “There was a lot of energy today and we just got to keep that going.”

Skyview (7-4, 0-2) opened the season 7-0 but has since dropped four straight, including 4A GSHL losses to Battle Ground and Union.

Once Skyview and Camas meet on Jan. 13, all four teams will be at the halfway mark of the 4A GSHL schedule before it picks up in late January.


SKYVIEW — Sam Sheppert 3, Gavin Packer 0, Gavin Perdue 2, Dylan Goetz 0, Demaree Collins 19, Javen Fletch 13, Landon Webb 3, Ryan Hanson 0, Malakai Weimer 0, Joshua Chatman 2. Totals 17 (5) 4-7 41.

UNION — Nolan Frazier 0, Grayson Stanley 3, Josiah Baldassare 12, Mitch Ratigan 0, Samair Thompson 3, Kody Holcomb 8, Yanni Fassilis 32, Nick Burchett 0, Tucker Dunseth 3, Evan Manville 1, Tyson Fuehrer 0. Totals 24 (7) 7-12 61.

Skyview 9 7 15 10—41

Union 12 16 15 19—61

JV — 47-46 Skyview