Extra notes: Union 62, Curtis 50
Just look at that final score.
Another double-digit win for the Union Titans. That would be 12 in a row with 10+ margin of victories. That’s 21 wins in a row total for the Titans.
But if you were there, if you witnessed this one, you would know this was no blowout. In fact, the only team that looked at risk of being blown out most of the night was Union.
The Titans are going to the Tacoma Dome, one of the final eight teams in the Class 4A boys basketball season. No matter what happens next week in the dome, the Titans will remember this one for a long, long time.
As you know from reading my game story, the Titans were down 10 points with 6:20 to play. Then scored 24 of the next 26 points to win by 12.
Here are some notes from the game and some personal observations:
As they say on Twitter, “Spooooooooooon!”
About a month ago, Union’s MVP Micah Paulson told me that Cole Weatherspoon might be the best point guard in the region. If the game is so much more than scoring, then keep an eye on Weatherspoon, Paulson was saying.
Friday night, Curtis couldn’t stand watching Weatherspoon.
I had Weatherspoon for six steals and seven assists. It seemed like every Curtis turnover had Weatherspoon’s defense behind it, in some way or another. Weatherspoon “only” scored six points Friday night. He took away potentially a dozen or more points from the Vikings.
One steal led to a lay-up during Union’s final 24-2 run. That one put the Titans behind by three at 49-46. He scored next for Union for being at the right place at the right time. A Curtis player tried to save a rebound that was going out of bounds right under the rim. Ball went right to Weatherspoon for a lay-up. 49-48.
On Curtis’ next possession, Weatherspoon was at it again. Now I do not know who got the steal from the official stat-keeper, but here’s what happened: Weatherspoon deflected a pass and Paulson ended up grabbing the ball for Union. Seconds later, Cameron Cranston hit a 3-pointer to give Union its first lead of the game. The Titans kept that lead for good.
“We wanted to go to the dome so bad,” Weatherspoon said. “Second half, we started executing, and we pulled through.”
Baseball will have to wait:
Thomas Lampkin Jr., known more for his baseball skills than his basketball skills, had a huge first half for the Titans. (By the way, that’s not a knock on his basketball skills. He’s a good high school basketball player. He’s just really good at baseball.)
Lampkin scored all eight of his points in the first half. That might not seem so important to the untrained eye. But I’m trained! Trust me, this was a big deal. Union came out tentative in this game. Short on a lot of shots. Some players were short on shots from inside 5-feet. There were missed lay-ups, too.
Lampkin was 4 for 7 in the first half. When the rest of the Titans were struggling, he found some success. The rest of the Titans were 5 of 23 in the first half. Union needed something from someone, and Lampkin gave the team that something to stay within shouting distance of Curtis.
Of course, this means that baseball season will start a week late for Lampkin. First day of practice for spring sports is Monday. Well, unless one is still playing basketball.
“We’re going to the dome, so it’s cool,” Lampkin said.
Couple other unsung heroes:
Reserves Nico Bricker and Stephan Ammentorp showed some clutch in them, too. Perhaps their moments did not come during clutch time, but again, the Titans just could not get anything going on offense. So any points were huge.
Bricker beat the first-quarter buzzer to make it a five-point deficit.
(Incidentally, the official fooled us on press row. He waved his arms, signaling the end of the quarter, then gave the signal for the shot being good. So there was a slight hesitation from the official scorer and the scoreboard operator. It all worked out.)
Ammentorp got called into action in the first and third quarters. He made his only field goal attempt. He caught a tough pass inside, then went up strong to the hoop with confidence. His third-quarter basket made it a one-point game. Curtis would get the lead back up to seven by the end of the quarter, but again, every point counted in this one for Union because the Titans just did not have “it” for the first 26 minutes of this game.
Ammentorp finished with three points. He also said the Titans always believed in themselves, even when it was 48-38 with 6:20 to play.
“We’re never down,” he said. “We’re never down.”
Vomit, then victory:
Riley Hawken missed some shots he usually never misses early in this game. Was it nerves? Actually, yes.
(We sports media types, as well as fans, always like to speculate. To me, the Titans did look like the magnitude of the game had them out of sorts. But we rarely ever know for sure.)
Hawken said it was definitely nerves.
Then he proved it by throwing up at halftime.
“Are you sick?” I asked after the game.
“No, just nervous,” he said.
Hawken ended up with a strong performance, with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Congrats to the Titans for making it to the dome. Union has had some success here, too. In 2012, the Titans finished third. In 2010, the Titans won the state title, then as a 3A team.