The Mount Si boys basketball team (1-2) struggled to defend the 3-point line and the Union Titans (6-0) made them pay, handing the Wildcats a 68-51 loss on Dec. 14.
The Titans connected on 13 shots from beyond the arc to sink the Wildcats in a battle between two of the preseason favorites in boys 4A basketball. Union senior forward Tanner Toolson had a game-high 28 points to help spoil the Wildcats’ first game in their new gym.
“At the end of the day, we lost to a great team,” Mount Si head coach Jason Griffith said. “They were deserving of the win. Kudos to (Union head coach Blake Conley) and his team. I thought Toolson was special, I thought Toolson showed why he is a Division 1 basketball player. He made a ton of key shots at key moments.”
The Wildcats were led by their two star seniors, Tyler Patterson and Jabe Mullins, who both contributed 17 points. Sophomore guard Bennett O’Connor added six points.
Griffith said the way the Titans shot the ball wasn’t surprising, but he added that the Wildcats had too many turnovers.
“It they (Union) are going to shoot like that, they’re going to win a lot of games,” Griffith said. “But I don’t think we helped ourselves in the process either.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 10-4 lead in the first quarter thanks to eight points from Patterson, but the Titans scored six straight to tie the game at 10 after the first quarter.
The Titans carried that momentum into the second quarter to take a 32-25 lead at halftime. Union pulled away in the second half to cruise to a 68-51 win over the Wildcats.
Even with a size advantage, the Wildcats were unable to consistently score buckets in the paint.
“We didn’t make them pay with our size,” Griffith said. “You walk in the gym and you look at our size compared to theirs and you’re like, ‘Oh let’s pound the ball inside,’ but they were tougher. It doesn’t matter how tall and lanky you are, they were tougher. They pushed us off our spots and they controlled the glass.”
While the result was not ideal for the Wildcats, Griffith said playing a tough opponent like Union will help them grow this season and provide them with plenty of things to work on.
“We’ve got to focus on next week for sure, but with that being said, we definitely have some holes, especially on the defensive side,” Griffith said.
With one of the top teams in the state coming to town to open up the new gym at Mount Si High School, there was more hype surrounding the game than the average nonleague game.
“I think the moment was too big for some of our guys,” Griffith said. “But at the same time, you have to play the game and we knew what was coming. We were hosting a great team, so it’s up to our guys to determine how they bounce back.”