MIDLAND First, it was a balanced scoring act that led the Timberline Blazers to a regional berth Friday night, their first playoff berth past the district tournament since 2004.
And Saturday night, the following night, against the 3A Narrows League-rival Foss, a team the Blazers had dropped both regular-season contest to, it was the defense that took over when it mattered most in a 52-48 victory over Foss at Franklin Pierce High school in the 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district boys basketball semifinals.
The Blazers (15-8) will play another league rival Lincoln -- for the district title at 4 p.m. Monday at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Both teams have already secured berths to the regional round of the 3A state basketball tournament. The winner will be the No. 1 seed.
Words were hard to find for many Blazers on playing for a district title, including junior guard Tyler Gartner.
I cant believe it, said Gartner, who finished with 10 points including a pair of 3-pointers. Weve come so far this year. Weve had so many people step up.
It was a tie ball game at 45-all with 1 minute, 24 seconds left after a 6-0 run by Foss. Brandell Evans drive in the lane just before the shot clock expired put the Blazers up 47-45 inside a minute to go. Donaven Dorsey, who led the Blazers with 16 points, also hit a pair of clutch free throws that put Timberline up 49-45 with 24.6 seconds left, but Trent came down and nailed a right-corner 3-pointer.
But between a block shot down low by Chase Ryan on Foss next possession, and double-teaming 3A Narrows League MVP Dezmyn Trent, which forced him to lose the ball out of bounds underneath the Foss basket with Timberlines lead at 50-48 in its final possession, the Blazers defense was the star.
The Blazers hit five free throws inside a minute-and-a-half to play two from Evans, two from Dorsey and one from Gartner, whose free throws put Timberline up 50-48 with 9.2 to go before the Blazers made a defensive stop at the other end. Dorseys buzzer-beater as the clock expired gave Timberline the four-point margin.
Dorsey was in some pain and noticeably limping after crashing hard to the floor on a fastbreak to the basket shortly after the fourth quarter started with Timberline up one at 33-32. Coach Allen Thomas said afterward Dorsey tweaked his ankle, but still had 10 of his 16 points in the final period.
Trent led all scorers with a game-high 29 points. In addition to Dorseys 16 and Gartners 10, Evans also had 10 points and Levi Lambert-Wilson had nine points 15 rebounds.