On Senior Night, the seniors stepped up for the Union boys basketball team, and none more than Yanni Fassilis.
Fassillis poured in a game-high 32 points to lead the Titans to an 83-56 rout of Battle Ground on Tuesday, setting up a showdown with first-place Camas on Friday.
“We just got out early, we ran, made sure to stay home on defense and played our roles,” Fassilis said. “We just played a team.”
The win was Union’s sixth in a row since its previous loss to Camas on Jan. 3. And all six wins have come by 20 points or more.
“I think we realized we needed to be a lot tougher,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “I’ve said this before but we need to be a really good rebounding team, and we were getting outrebounded earlier. … And I think we’ve done that. We’ve been a lot tougher. We’ve taken care of the ball. Honestly, it hasn’t been any magic. We just try to get better every day, and I think we have each game.”
Conley pointed out to the contributions of two other seniors – Evan Manville and Josiah Baldassare – as being pivotal to the Titans’ recent run of success.
“Evan Manville, he was so tough tonight,” Conley said. “He’s a good shooter, but he’s so much more versatile than that. And I think he showed that tonight – his rebounding, his toughness on the boards, scoring down low. … And Josiah Baldassare. He’s a kid that we challenged when we weren’t rebounding well. We said ‘Jo, we need you to rebound, otherwise we’ll need to find another answer.’ And he responded.”
On Tuesday night, Manville’s drive in the lane sparked a 16-5 run to end the second quarter, allowing Union to take a 39-31 lead into halftime.
With the Titans moving the ball, hitting outside shots and creating second-chance opportunities, it opened things up for Fassilis. The senior scored 12 points in the third quarter as Union stretched its lead to 64-45.
“We focused on film,” Fassilis said on Union’s turnaround. “We watched a lot of film, especially the games lost. And we realized what stuff killed us. We were missing a lot of guys at the time, but no excuses. We’re back. We’re gelling as a team again. I feel like we were the more talented team, and we showed that tonight.”
Defensively, the Titans held Battle Ground star Tait Spencer to 17 points.
“That’s 20 points below his average, so we’ll take that,” Conley said.
Trey Spencer led Battle Ground with 20 points. Manville finished with 16 for Union.
With the win, Union tied Battle Ground for second place in the 4A Greater St. Helens League at 2-2.
Next up for Union is first-place Camas (4-0), and the Titans hope to show the Papermakers a different team than the one Camas beat 62-56 four weeks ago.
“It took us a little while to get going at the beginning of the season, with guys being out and a lot of new guys on the team,” Fassilis said. “I think we are starting to figure ourselves out, and I’m really excited for this next week and a half.”
UNION 83, BATTLE GROUND 56
BATTLE GROUND — Ian Ebinger 0, Todd Copper 0, Jacob Champine 0, Ty Robertson 8, Tait Spencer 17, Noah Currie 7, Henri Smith 2, Austin Ralphs 2, Trey Spencer 20. Totals 23 (6) 4-11 56.
UNION — Nolan Frazier 0, Grayson Stanley 10, Josiah Baldassare 3, Mitch Ratigan 2, Samair Thompson 2, Kody Holcomb 10, Yanni Fassilis 32, Nick Burchett 0, Paxton Heitsch 3, Tucker Dunseth 5, Evan Manville 16. Totals 33 (6) 11-15 83.
BG 19 12 14 11—56
Union 18 21 25 19—83