During the first quarter Friday night in Purdy, Timberline High School didn’t display the defense that makes it one of the most competitive teams in the 3A South Sound Conference.
Peninsula effortlessly converted a handful of baskets in the paint to jump out to an early lead.
But, for much of the final three quarters, Timberline put at end to that, powering its way to a 62-52 win over the Seahawks on the road.
“We didn’t come out with much energy at first,” Timberline point guard Eli Morton said. “The team just talked to each other, coach got into us, and it turned around.”
Timberline (11-3, 7-1 3A SSC) turned up its press in the second quarter, igniting a quick 11-0 run. Wichita State signee Erik Stevenson made three unanswered baskets and a free throw to give the Blazers their first lead, 17-16, with six minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the half.
The Blazers held on to the lead until the closing seconds of the half, when Kaleb Lichau hit a contested 3-pointer to give the Seahawks a 29-27 advantage.
“They’re a good team, they’re tough to play against,” said Stevenson, who led all scorers with 23 points. “They play hard, they’re physical. They never give up on a play. ... The battled us the whole 32 (minutes).”
Peninsula held onto its slim lead until midway through the fourth quarter, led by Seth Kasteler, who scored a team-high 12 points. Dustin Baker added 10 points for the Seahawks, while Sam Miller had nine.
But, the Blazers took the lead back for good on a Jamin Faalogo layup with 4:57 remaining. Hunter Campau then connected on 3-pointer from the corner, and Timberline never let its lead dip below two possessions.
Morton complemented Stevenson’s effort with 22 points for the Blazers, and hit four consecutive free throws in the final minute to keep the Seahawks out of reach.
“If I’m getting double-teamed I can always kick to him,” Stevenson said of Morton. “He’ll hit a shot or drive and kick out to Hunter or Casson (Rouse). He’s another guy to go to to get a bucket.”
Stevenson added two free throws with 24.2 seconds to play to give Timberline its final 10-point lead.
The Blazers remain one game out of first place in the 3A SSC with six games to play. Undefeated North Thurston (12-0, 7-0) remains in the lead with a win over Gig Harbor on Friday.
“It’s as simple as taking one game at a time,” Morton said. “Value each possession, take it one game at a time and play together.”
T – Rouse 5, Campau 3, Morton 22, Stevenson 23, Joubert 3, Wike 1, Faalogo 6
P – McLaughlin 7, Miller 9, Jackson 5, Lichau 3, Kasteler 12, Brinkman 4, Baker 10