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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Union boys basketball team stuns Skyview 46-43, forcing two tiebreakers in 4A GSHL

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 6, 2024, 10:53pm

Chaos seems to bring out the best in the Union boys basketball team.

The Titans dropped their first three 4A Greater St. Helens League games of the 2023-24 season, leaving them little margin for error over the last two weeks. First, they responded by beating Battle Ground on Jan. 30. Then, after dropping a close loss to Camas on Feb. 2, they needed a win over Skyview Tuesday on the final night of the regular season to keep their season alive.

And although the Titans trailed the Storm for all of two-and-a-half quarters on their home floor, they made their move in the second half and never looked back.

“Skyview’s a really good team, they’ve got really good players, we knew they were going to go on runs,” Union senior Tucker Dunseth said. “So, let them go on their runs, then we go on ours and just hang around.”

The Titans’ patience paid off. After outscoring Skyview 15-8 in the third quarter, Union led for the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter and escaped with a 46-43 win as Skyview’s deep, game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed.

Kody Holcomb, who hit two clutch 3-pointers in the final three minutes, and Grayson Stanley each led the Titans (10-11, 2-4) with 12 points.

“We’re due,” Union coach Garold Howe said. “We’ve missed a lot of really big shots and a lot of free throws at the end of really close ball games all year. I keep telling these guys, if they’re good shots, we’re going to keep shooting them. Kody shooting pick-and-pops against their best matchup, wide open 3-pointers, we have to continue to take those shots.

“We’re due — that’s my best answer. I’ve been waiting all year for one of them to make one of those shots and today was the day, with your back on the line.”

The result, coupled with Battle Ground’s win over Camas on Monday, sets up two tiebreaker games in the 4A GSHL to be played Wednesday: Skyview will face Camas in the first-place tiebreaker at Prairie High School tipping off at 6 p.m.; Union and Battle Ground will play in the third-place tiebreaker at Evergreen High School at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the 4A bi-district playoffs and the losing team ending its season.

In other words, the type of situation the Titans have thrived in lately.

“It’s another win-or-go-home game, so we can’t look past it,” Dunseth said. “We just beat (Battle Ground), but they just beat Camas, so anything can happen, really.”

Skyview (12-8, 4-2) had all the momentum early and led by as many as 12 points in the opening quarter following a Gavin Perdue 3-pointer.

Union, however, continued to hang around and trailed by just five points at halftime. A pair of 3-pointers from Nolan Frazier and Dunseth gave the Titans their first lead two minutes into the third.

Skyview’s Malakai Weimer, who led the Storm with 13 points, scored a game-tying layup to open the fourth, but the Titans never trailed from that point forward, and led by as many as 10 after back-to-back Holcomb 3-pointers, the latter coming at the 2:39 mark.

“We needed a bucket, and I was on go mode,” Holcomb said. “We would not be here without my team, obviously, they got me open.”

Leading by three points, the Titans missed two free throws with nine seconds left, but the Storm’s game-tying 3 clanked off the rim at the buzzer.

Though Skyview missed a chance to win an outright 4A GSHL title, it still finished as co-league champion with Camas. The Storm have little time to dwell on the loss with a tiebreaker game Wednesday against the Papermakers. The winner clinches the No. 1 seed for the 4A bi-district playoffs and earns a winner-to-state home game Saturday against Olympia.

“As disappointing as it was to not finish it today like we thought we could, we know we got a game tomorrow to win the one seed,” Skyview coach Matt Gruhler said. “And, we’re still league champions. So at the end of the day, it’s not the result we wanted, we’re disappointed, but if we let the disappointment dictate how we play tomorrow, then that’s not the sign of a championship-level team. We’re gonna come right back and be ready to go.”

UNION 46, SKYVIEW 43

SKYVIEW — Landon Webb 0, Gavin Packer 4, Gavin Perdue 7, Malakai Weimer 13, Demaree Collins 12, Ryan Hanson 0, Zeno Calastas 0, Jaxson Filler 7. Totals 16 (1) 10-14 43.

UNION — Nolan Frazier 6, Paxton Heitsch 5, Grayson Stanley 12, Tucker Dunseth 7, Kody Holcomb 12, Nick Burchett 4. Totals 15 (7) 8-14 46.

Skyview 18 7 8 10—43

Union 6 14 15 11—46

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