Union, the state’s top 4A team, takes down defending state champ Gonzaga Prep in impressive manner: 3 observations

VANCOUVER — Will anyone be able to keep up with Union?

The Titans checked another box on its nonleague tear on Saturday: two-time defending 4A state champion Gonzaga Prep.

Tanner Toolson scored 30 points to lead the undefeated No. 1 Titans to a 77-59 win over the Bullpups at Union High School on Saturday afternoon. 

Ariya Briscoe added 14 points for Union. Grand Canyon signee Liam Lloyd led Gonzaga Prep with 18 points. 

Here are three observations:

UNION’S SUCCESS IS UNDENIABLE. IT’S GOAL NOW? DON’T GET COMPLACENT.

Union head coach Blake Conley.

Union went 20-0 last year entering the 4A state tournament, and lost its first game. 

With wins over defending 4A runner-up Mount Si and now two-time defending 4A champ Gonzaga Prep know, the Titans are off to perhaps an even more blistering 11-0 start. 

Head coach Blake Conley said it’s important for his players not to get complacent in January. 

“We’ve got to be hungry,” Conley said. “We’ve got to be a different team in February than we are now. But I’ve been pleased at how we’ve responded, pleased with the competition we’ve had. We’ve risen to the occasion so far.”

Added junior Brad Lackey: “Not a single one of these guys are complacent right now. We all know we have stuff to improve on. Nobody’s had a perfect game. We have a lot of returners from last year. They know the feeling. They know they can’t do that again.”

TOOLSON HAD THE BETTER DAY IN HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH LLOYD

Liam Lloyd and Tanner Toolson are both among the top players in all of 4A, and  effect the game in similar ways. 

Comparable size, can score in a multitude of ways, and are both future Division I basketball players. 

And both are off to blistering starts to the season. But on Saturday, it was Toolson that left the more pronounced impression. Several of his 30 points came with Lloyd guarding him. 

The two are teammates on the AAU team Washington Supreme, and went at each other for a sizable chunk of the game Saturday.

“It was pretty cool playing against him and reconnecting,” Lloyd said. “He’s a good player. Obviously I was ready to step up to the challenge and guard him and take him on offense, too. It was cool playing against another Division I player.”

FOR LLOYD, A SPECIAL SCHEDULING MOMENT OCCURRED FRIDAY

Liam Lloyd, Gonzaga Prep
Liam Lloyd watched a corner 3 go in the net during Gonzaga camp in July while his father, Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, looks on with a similar facial expression. (Andy Buhler photo)

Gonzaga Prep got Union on the schedule in the first place because it wanted to make the most of a prior commitment to Kelso. 

The Bullpups’ scheduling of Kelso was a unique family occasion for Liam Lloyd and his dad, Gonzaga head boys basketball assistant coach Tommy Lloyd. 

Tommy Lloyd grew up and played for Kelso in the early 1990s, and his parents still live there. When the No. 1 Zags played University of Portland on Thursday, the coach stayed in the area to watch his son play on the court he once graced, with family in the stands. 

“It was pretty cool,” Liam Lloyd said, “to have all my family there, my grandparents’ friends and everyone I’ve grown up with. They all got to go tot he game and watch me play in the same gym as my dad did growing up.”

Liam heard about his dad’s Kelso days growing up. Tommy, who went on to play at Walla Walla Community College, was a shooter, and let Liam know as much. 

“I think I could shoot it a little better,” Liam said, smirking.

Andy Buhler is a reporter for Scorebook Live Washington. Hear him weekly on the Scorebook Live Today podcast, follow him on Twitter @AndyBuhler; email at andy@scorebooklive.com.

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