The dunk put a nice stamp on the win for Timberline High School.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, Wilson desperately tried to cut into a 10-point lead. But as soon as Londrell Hamilton’s shot rimmed out, Timberline’s Tariq Romain snagged the rebound.
Romain found Erik Stevenson sprinting to the other end of the floor alone, and Stevenson took one dribble before hammering down the exclamation point.
Stevenson, Timberline’s stellar junior guard, let out a yell, and the Blazers left the MLK Invitational at Foss High School with a decisive, 79-63, win.
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“We just turned it up,” said Stevenson, who led all scorers with 27 points.
Stevenson, who recorded a double-double adding 10 rebounds, was one of three Timberline players in double figures. Eli Morton (21 points) and Romain (17) helped pace the Blazers.
Carrying a three-point lead at the break, Stevenson said he had a message for his two teammates in the locker room.
“I pulled the guards — me, Tariq and Eli — aside and said, ‘Look, we’ve got a big atmosphere — biggest atmosphere of the season so far — we’ve got to put on a show,’ ” Stevenson said.
The stage was plenty big. An already packed gym also included coaches from Division I programs to watch Stevenson and Wilson’s Emmitt Matthews Jr. play.
Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle was in attendance, as was a coach from Wichita State.
Stevenson — who plays AAU basketball for Washington Supreme with Matthews Jr. — has five Division I offers from Old Dominion, Cal Poly, Wichita State, Hawaii and Washington State.
“I love it,” Stevenson said. “It just reminds me of the circuit that me and Emmitt play on in the summer, on the same team.
“Big games, big atmosphere, that’s when I come to play. I don’t back down from anybody, and I think that showed today.”
Just before the third quarter expired, Stevenson faked left, put the ball between his legs, and beat Matthews Jr. to the hoop for a contested layup.
He completed the three-point play to give Timberline the lead for good at 45-42.
Stevenson added 13 more points in the fourth quarter, and the Rams gradually slipped further behind.
“Towards the end, you could sense it, their head was going down, their heart was getting taken out of it,” Stevenson said. “We just kept on the gas pedal.”
Morton, who scored 19 of his 21 points from the free throw line, Stevenson and Romain each converted free throws as part of a 9-2 Timberline run to end the game.
Morton transferred from Wilson last season, and said he worked on his free throws all week. He hit the game’s final two from the stripe seconds before time ran out.
“It was very, very exciting,” Morton said. “I still have love for everybody there, including the coach, but it was just that type of game where we had to win, coming off of a tough loss against Peninsula.”
Timberline’s 53-52 loss to Peninsula last Friday snapped a five-game winning streak. Timberline coach Allen Thomas said Monday’s game was a good test to see how the Blazers would rebound.
“I thought it was good for us to actually get hit in the mouth early on, just to see how we were going to respond from Peninsula’s game,” Thomas said.
Timberline trailed Wilson by as many as eight points early in the second quarter before Stevenson, who is averaging 20.9 points per game, hit a 3-pointer that sparked an 11-2 run.
“He knows that we’re looking for him all the time,” Thomas said. “He kind of let his defense create a little bit of his offense, which is something we’ve been talking about together a lot.
“He’s not just a shooter, and he’s not just a driver. He can do a lot more when he plays defense.”
Matthews Jr. led the Rams with 24 points, while Hamilton added 19.
The Blazers (10-4, 6-2 Class 3A South Sound Conference) ended a four-game winning streak for the Rams (11-3, 7-1 3A Pierce County League) with the win.
Timberline 15 15 15 34_79
Wilson 18 10 14 21_63
T – Romain 17, Stevenson 27, Faalogo 2, Campau 3, Morton 21, Bush 8
W – Matthews 24, Hamilton 19, N. Stokes 5, A. Stokes 6, Mitchell 2, Bates 4, Doss 3