Man, zone, whatever defense the Timberline High School boys basketball team ran the first three quarters, it certainly wasn’t to coach Allen Thomas’ game plan.
But the final six minutes of the game? The Blazers charged back from 17 points down to within one point of the lead with a furious full-court press that had Kentridge out of sorts.
It just wasn’t enough to make up for the first 26 minutes.
The Blazers lost their Class 4A West Central District 3 quarterfinal against the Chargers, 64-61, on Saturday at Puyallup High School. They face Rogers in an elimination game at 7:45 p.m. Monday at Mount Tahoma High School.
Never miss a local story.
“We took too long to get to how we needed to play,” said Timberline senior guard Brandell Evans, who scored 13 points. “But when we got there, we were a really good team. I think it just took us being down to realize we had to fight.”
Timberline (15-7) trailed 54-37 with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter. But then Evans made a basket underneath and the Blazers took off. Their full-court pressure was aggressive, forcing Kentridge to turn the ball over on nine of its next 13 possessions.
Austin Curry benefited most. The junior guard scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the third quarter, most coming off steals and layups at the other end.
The Blazers went on a 16-2 run, with Curry’s bucket pulling Timberline to within 60-59 with 1:12 to play.
Kentridge’s Joran Ticeson had the dagger. His mid-range, baseline jumper bounced high off the rim and dropped into the net to put the Chargers ahead 64-59 with 21 seconds to go.
Curry had one last look at the buzzer with Timberline down 64-61. But his shot from about five feet behind the 3-point line was off and Kentridge held on.
“I think they came out with more energy than us and then we just kind of shook it off and came back, and got the energy back,” said Chargers forward Nick Hopson, who scored a game-high 19 points.
“We just had to do what Coach (Dave Jamison) said, execute and that’s what happens. We just had to execute our stuff and act like we’d been here before.”
Kentridge (18-4) clinched a regional round of the state tournament berth and advances to the district semifinals to face Class 4A South Puget Sound League Northeast rival Kentwood at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Puyallup High School.
All four semifinal teams — Curtis, Federal Way, Kentridge and Kentwood — are from the SPSL. The three 4A Narrows teams in the quarterfinals — Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor and Timberline — fell into the consolation bracket.
The Chargers pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Blazers 22-14. Micah Simmons scored 11 of his 16 points in the period.
But Thomas said he knew it was going to be a rough game for Timberline just by the look of his players during the pregame shootaround.
“We had a lack of focus at shootaround, and that’s why I didn’t think we were mentally prepared to work today,” Thomas said. “We were worried about other things. When you do that at this point of the season, you pay the price.”
The Blazers started the game in man-to-man defense, then shifted to 2-3 zone. The Chargers didn’t have trouble with either, getting open looks against the man and finding the holes in the zone, especially with Hopson working from the free throw line.
“I just don’t think we followed the game plan,” Thomas said. “The game plan was to pressure them full court, turn them in the backcourt, make them pass the ball under pressure. We did that for six minutes.”
And that’s when the Blazers took off.
But where was it the first 26 minutes?
“Exactly,” Thomas said.
“We had four guys playing zone and one guy thought it was man. We had a lot of lack of focus.”
Timberline can still reach regionals, but will need wins in each of its next two games.
“We have to keep in mind that our goals are still right in front of us,” Thomas said. “We just have to regroup and get back to work.”