BELLEVUE — There are times when all a basketball coach can do is tip his or her hat.
What can you say when the opposing team shoots almost 60 percent from the field, getting buckets on everything from transition layups to long-range 3-pointers, and exploits its own strengths with ease as Eastside Catholic did Friday night?
That’s how it went for the Timberline Blazers in their 80-40 loss to the Crusaders at Bellevue College, a Class 3A regional boys playoff game that was well in hand by halftime.
The Blazers, who have made several successful comebacks this season after trailing by double digits, couldn’t make a big run to pull out of a 25-4 hole dug in the first eight minutes.
“We ran out of magic,” Blazers coach Allen Thomas said.
A glimmer of hope came with a 7-0 second-quarter run, capped by five consecutive points from University of Washington-bound Donaven Dorsey, to pull within 38-18. Dorsey finished with a team-best 11 points in 22 minutes. He was used sparingly in the second half as Eastside Catholic’s lead ballooned to 41 points.
The Crusaders’ lead forced use of the 40-point running-clock rule for the final 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
Eastside Catholic (21-5) advances to next week’s Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome, while Timberline (13-12) ends its season one game short of making back-to-back state appearances for the first time since the early 1980s.
Eastside Catholic, the second-best team in the 3A Metro League that features powerhouse Rainier Beach, had its way in all aspects.
The Crusaders made 32 of 54 shots, including 12 of 21 from the 3-point line, and had 23 assists and seven turnovers. Even with a 31-point lead and both teams clearing their benches, substitutes such as Eastside Catholic’s Morgan Clark (nine points, 3-for-3 from 3-point range) got in the scoring mix.
Matisse Thybulle, who had 19 of his game-high 20 points in the first half to stake the Crusaders to a 42-20 halftime lead, was one of four players in double figures.
Meanwhile, Timberline made just 15 field goals, and its 40 points was its second-lowest total of the season. The Blazers scored 38 against 3A Narrows League foe Lincoln on Jan. 17.
“Nobody could find their rhythm,” said junior point guard Brandell Evans, who finished with 10 points. “Everybody was struggling. ... They (Eastside Catholic) were hitting shot after shot after shot.”
Still, despite the loss, Evans said it was a memorable season for many reasons.
“Nobody thought we’d make it this far,” he said. “People thought we’d fold during the regular season or in the first round of the (district) playoffs, but I’m proud of my team.”
The Crusaders, with three of their five losses coming against top-ranked Rainier Beach, were on the other side of a 40-point game during last week’s 78-38 loss to the unbeaten Vikings. Eastside Catholic used that defeat to its advantage against Timberline, Crusaders coach Bill Liley said.
“We went back, and we really focused on some fundamentals and really tried to get our execution level a lot higher,” Liley said. “I think it showed today.”
A new classification will greet the Blazers and their seven returnees next season as they move up to the 4A Narrows.
Said Thomas: “This is a good life lesson for us, and we have to get back to work.”
That begins when?
“Monday,” he said.