The Union Titans wrapped up their final shoot-around of the season with a clap at center court. Nothing too special about it. Well, except for the fact that it was at the University of Puget Sound, just a few miles from the Tacoma Dome, and that the Titans would be playing for a state championship less than four hours later.
Yeah, no big deal, right?
“It feels pretty normal,” Union coach Maco Hamilton said. “It doesn’t feel really different. It’s what we’ve been doing for four days up here. Maybe when we get into the stadium it will feel a little different.”
That’s when the Titans will know it is all for real.
Union plays top-ranked Enumclaw at 7 p.m. for the Class 3A state boys basketball championship.
Saturday afternoon’s walk-through allowed for the Titans to get a little extra instruction on how to defend Enumclaw. The Titans lost to the Hornets last week in the bi-district tournament, so Union already knows what it is like to face the undefeated squad. Union was close last week. They hope to be better than close tonight.
Hamilton reminded the Titans to “trust your teammates,” something they have been doing all season long. Tonight is for the title, but it is still a basketball game. If the Titans continue to play like they have in recent weeks, they will be in the contest.
Ryan Greenen, the team’s inspiration and the reason for the “Just Sprint” T-shirts, was at the shootaround, as well. Of course he was. He is very much a member of this team.
Greenen, who has had to learn how to talk and walk again after an accident the winter of his freshman year, is using his wheelchair this week, but just for convenience. He is walking more and more. At school, he trades off walking and using a scooter, depending on where he has to travel.
He also enjoys charming the lady friends.
“Biggest flirt ever,” said Rachel Bersaas, one of Union’s team managers.
Kaitlyn Burbank and Marina Gonzales, the other mangers, agreed.
Ryan, who never lost his sense of humor, needs time to get the words out, but he always has something funny to say.
About the flirting?
“Keep that on the down low,” he said.
And what about a prediction for tonight’s game? Ryan went into The Thinker’s pose, with his hand up to his chin, and then said:
“We’re gonna kick Enumclaw’s buttocks.”
And just a reminder, Just Sprint comes from a discussion he had a couple years ago with Union coach Maco Hamilton. The coach asked Ryan what is the one thing Ryan wished he could do.
“Just sprint” was the answer.
And Just Sprint was born.