LACEY — Brandell Evans knows the state tournament history of Timberline boys basketball, and he sees the success of the program’s three state-placing teams on the wall outside the high school’s two gymnasiums.
One of three large, green banners belongs to the 1980 state champions, and nestled in between 38 gold state-placer banners for all sports are two second-place banners for 1981 and 1973.
“There’s empty space (on the wall) we can fill,” Evans said.
Great point guards have come before him, and he might be the next.
Not bad for a kid who was bumped up
to junior varsity last season as a freshman.
This year, Evans has taken over the varsity job for the Blazers (16-9), who will play Franklin (17-9) in the state quarterfinals at 3:45 p.m. today at the Tacoma Dome.
The 5-foot-11 Evans has game-changing speed and isn’t afraid to penetrate to the basket or spot up for a jump shot. He has blossomed into a third scoring option behind Donaven Dorsey and center Elijah Sanders and is averaging eight points, five assists and two steals a game.
The transformation came along with a daily grind inside the Timberline gymnasium throughout the summer months. At every opportunity, Evans worked with coaches and junior Dorsey on his speed, his shot and his ball-handling skills.
Dorsey, who is one of the top scorers at the 3A tournament (21.0 ppg), remembers how Evans was up for the challenge and has grown into a new-look point guard.
“He’s really evolved and gotten a lot more mature and really stepped up to the plate,” Dorsey said.
Said Evans: “It prepared me for this moment.”
A point guard himself at River Ridge and at The Evergreen State College, first-year Timberline coach Allen Thomas said he expects a lot out of his point guards and has put the pressure on Evans to excel. That’s a lot to ask for a young point guard, but Evans embraces the challenge of commanding the offense.
“He’s always talking about how great point guard’s assist-to-turnover ratio is very good and how me turning the ball over won’t work,” Evans said.
Thomas said the players have counted on Evans not only to score, but also to “make a timely stop, or big assist when we need it.”
Evans’ scoring has been noticeable in the postseason, posting double figures in two of Timberline’s past three games. And in Saturday’s 56-55 win over No. 2-ranked Mercer Island that sent the Blazers to the Tacome Dome for the first time since 2004, Evans was primarily feeding Dorsey and Sanders, who combined for 39 points.
Following a 78-75 loss to Foss on Jan. 23, the Blazers were 8-7 overall, but they won eight of their last 10 games and enter the Tacoma Dome as a title-contending team after a third-place finish in the 3A Narrows League.
Ask any coach or player if the team would be where it is without Evans, and the answer you’ll hear is no.
“And look where we’re at now?” Dorsey said. “You can’t go anywhere without a point guard.”
Said Evans: “This week, we’re about to do something none of us will ever forget. We plan to go game by game and try to get to that championship.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick