Winning a bi-district boys basketball title is supposed to afford you a luxury matchup in the regional tournament, right?
Not so for the Curtis High Vikings.
Matched up for the second time in the postseason, Union High School of Camas made this one count more, eliminating fifth-ranked Curtis with a 58-47 victory in the Class 4A regionals at Auburn High School.
And Union’s two standouts – forward Tanner Nelson (23 points) and guard Jordan Chatman (21 points), who is headed to Brigham Young – pulled the Titans through to the next round, and to a site they are most comfortable in. Union won the 3A title in the Tacoma Dome in 2010.
It was clear the Titans had two missions Friday night – extend defensive pressure for 80 feet, then collapse down on Curtis big man Darius Johnson-Wilson, the SPSL South player of the year.
Johnson-Wilson got his points early, and finished with 16. But in the final 51/2 minutes, two and sometimes three Union defenders sagged in the lane and tugged at his every limb to make sure he did not get an entry pass.
“I was grabbing him inside a little bit,” Nelson said with a big grin. “But whatever gets the job done.”
Down by as many as seven points in the third quarter, Curtis pulled even at 45-45 on Johnson-Wilson’s putback with 5:25 to go. That was the last field goal the Vikings would made in the game.
Union dared Curtis (20-7) to take long perimeter shots, which the Vikings did – and missed. They missed six 3-pointers in the final four minutes, and finished the fourth quarter going 3-for-16 from the floor.
And when the Titans (17-8) could, they would run. They either got inside baskets for Nelson or Trent Cowan, or were fouled. For the game, Union made 20 of 25 free throws – 9-for-12 in the fourth quarter.
The Titans scored on their final eight possessions over a 4:29 span, turning a close game into a runaway affair.
— Todd Milles, staff writer