Tacoma – First, it was a balanced scoring act that led the Timberline Blazers to a regional berth, their first playoff berth past the district tournament since 2004.
And the following night, Saturday, 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 Monday 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 can’t believe it,” said Gartner, who finished with 10 points including a pair of 3-pointers. “We’ve come so far this year. We’ve had so many people step up.”
It was a tie game at 45-all with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining 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.
Between a blocked 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 Timberline’s lead at 50-48 in its final possession, the Blazers’ defense was the star.
Donaven Dorsey, who led the Blazers with 16 points, hit a pair of clutch free throws that put Timberline up 49-45 with 24.6 seconds remaining, before Trent nailed 3-pointer from the right corner.
The Blazers hit five free throws inside a minute 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.
Dorsey’s buzzer-beater gave Timberline the four-point margin.
Dorsey was in some pain and noticeably limping after crashing hard to the floor on a fast break shortly after the fourth quarter started with Timberline up, 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 29 points. In addition to Dorsey’s 16 and Gartner’s 10, Evans also had 10 points and Levi Lambert-Wilson had nine points 15 rebounds.
2A DISTRICT IV
Washougal 74, Capital 67: After a red-hot start, nailing five first-quarter 3-pointers, the Panthers’ outside shooting came alive in the second half to help Washougal eliminate Capital from the district tournament.
Capital held a 32-29 lead at halftime, but the Panthers took a 48-41 lead into the fourth quarter after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jaden Jantzer.
Washougal advances to play 2A GSHL-rival Hockinson on Tuesday in a winner-to-regional game.
Hockinson 42, W.F. West 37: Wyatt Yearout hit four free throws in the final 17.2 seconds to give the Hawks, the No. 3 seed out of the 2A Greater St. Helens League, the loser-out consolation victory over W.F. West, champion of the 2A Evergreen Conference.
Hockinson will face Washougal at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday for the third and final regional berth.
River Ridge 48, Hockinson 35: The River Ridge Hawks, holding a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter, opened the quarter on a 13-4 run to seal its win over the Hockinson Hawks in a loser-out consolation game of the 2A District IV tournament at Mark Morris High School.
River Ridge will face Centralia in a winner-to-regional, loser-out game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at W.F. West.
Jazzlynn Brewster led all scorers with 18 points and Savannah McGill had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Centralia 73, Black Hills 62: Freshman guard Madi Crews scored a career-high 30 points as the Tigers survived its loser-out consolation game and eliminatet Black Hills from the district tournament.