The Curtis Vikings faced a simple story problem Friday night, and it’s a short story: win or be done.
The answer, in the end, was also short, and not so sweet: a 62-50 loss to the No. 2-ranked Union Titans in a Class 4A regional eliminator that ended the Curtis season.
Union sophomore Cameron Cranston, who at 6-foot-4 has free rein to bomb from 3-point range, was scoreless until he hit his first shot from behind the arc three minutes into the final quarter. Thus unleashed, Cranston scored 10 more points in a 21-1 Union run to the finish as the Titans (22-1) earned a berth in the 4A state tournament quarterfinals next weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
This was a closer game than the fourth quarter would suggest. The Vikings (20-7), South Puget Sound League South champs, led after the first, second and third quarters, and the Titans did not take their first lead until three minutes were left in the game.
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“People are going to open the paper tomorrow and see the score,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said, “and it wasn’t like that.”
Union of Vancouver, champion of the 4A Greater St. Helens League, won its 21st straight game, but it was never easy.
The potent Titans were mostly dormant in the first half, trailing 30-21 on 30 percent shooting from the field. Meanwhile, Aushanti Potts-Woods pumped in 10 of his game-high 17 points in the first half for the Vikings, who hit on 57 percent of their shots before intermission.
Union stirred to life in the third quarter. The GSHL’s most valuable player, 6-1 senior Micah Paulson, had nine of his team-high 16 points in the quarter, and assisted on two other baskets by teammates.
Still, Curtis led, 43-36, after three quarters of action, getting strong play down low from Semaj Booker (13 points).
The Vikings bumped their lead to 49-41 on a free throw by Darrin Gethers, and then the wheels came off.
“We took bad shots, made bad decisions, and it led to them getting a lot easier shots than they had for three-and-a-half quarters,” Kelly said. “We weren’t smart.”