TACOMA — A two-and-out exit from the 3A state boys basketball championships was surely a disappointment for Timberline High School on Friday.
Disappointing, but not crushing because anyone following the Blazers knows the best for Donaven Dorsey and company is likely yet to come.
In a tournament of yawners on the boys’ court, Timberline found itself in a wire-to-wire consolation-round grinder – one it lost, 56-52, to sixth-ranked Seattle Prep after Panthers standout D.J. Fenner iced it on two made free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Even though he was not crisp – he was hobbled by a balky ankle – Fenner still poured in a game-high 26 points. The son of former Seattle Seahawks running back Derrick Fenner did it on 9-for-26 shooting from the floor.
It wasn’t Dorsey’s best game, either. He tallied 21 points on 6-for-15 shooting, and was forced into four turnovers.
In the end, it was simply a senior not wanting his career to end. And it won’t until today when Seattle Prep takes on Mountlake Terrace at 9:30 a.m. for the fourth/sixth place trophy.
“D.J. Fenner, he’s a good player – even on a bad ankle,” said Dorsey, who was ailing himself with back spasms, but still played 29 minutes.
Yet, the Blazers’ killer really wasn’t Fenner, even though he did score eight points in the final quarter, including three free throws in the final 15.7 seconds. It was sophomore sharpshooter Jack Stewart, who made five 3-pointers.
Four of those long-range daggers came in the second half – and three of them broke a tied score.
“Jack Stewart, down the stretch the last six games has been huge,” Seattle Prep coach Michael Kelly said.
The game was tied for the final time at 45 with 4:56 to go on Timberline’s Levi Lambert-Wilson’s floater in the lane. Fenner was fouled on the other end and made the first free throw, but missed the second one.
The ball bounced right back to him and the Panthers retained possession when Dorsey was whistled for his fourth foul on the loose ball.
Dorsey went to the bench at the 4:24 mark, and seconds later Fenner scored inside to give Seattle Prep a 48-45 lead.
On the Panthers’ next trip, Sean Gummersall scored easily on the inside, putting the Blazers in frantic catch-up mode the rest of the way.
Dorsey did cut it to 54-52 on a top-of-the-arc 3-pointer with 7.3 seconds remaining. But Fenner cooly clinched it with two no-doubt free throws.
After the game, Timberline coach Allen Thomas noted one crucial statistic – point-guard turnovers. Brandell Evans, his starter, had nine of them. His backup, Brandon Brown – who also made a pair of 3-pointers – also turned it over once.
“Eight empty possessions and we lose by four – come on now,” Thomas said. “It was good lesson learned, especially for the young guys.”
The Blazers will graduate Elijah Sanders and Lambert-Wilson, two key interior players. But five of the top seven players return next season with three, including Dorsey, becoming seniors.
Thomas named a few offseason priorities: building off Evans’ first year as the starting point guard; developing a pair of other sophomores as tough frontcourt players; and, of course, monitoring Dorsey.
“He needs to get a little bit stronger,” Thomas said. “He’s going to get taller. I want him to be around the game more ... and work on his jump shot.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles