Kiara Brooks knew she needed to have a big game.
She didn’t know she would wind up having the best offensive night in Timberline High School girls basketball history.
With usual starting post Keshara Romain sidelined with the flu, Brooks scored the Blazers’ first nine points, and sank six free throws down the stretch, finishing with a school-record 34 points in a 63-54 win Wednesday night over crosstown rival North Thurston.
“I’ve known since the beginning of the year I needed to be a leader,” Brooks said. “With Keshara out, I really had to step up. We did miss her.”
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Brooks’ point total — which included seven 3-point baskets — eclipsed the mark of 33, last set by Sasha Weber in a late-season win over Lincoln in 2012, when she was a senior.
“I’m excited to break a record as a junior,” said Brooks, a 5-foot-7 guard, who followed the Blazers teams earlier this decade when they made the school’s first two state-regional appearances.
“I remember Sasha was tall, so when I first saw her I thought she’d be a post, but she was really versatile.”
Weber, who went on to play at New Mexico State, and now plays professionally overseas, is still the career record-holder with 1,503 points between 2008-12.
All was happiness for Timberline at game’s end, after the Blazers broke away from a 43-43 tie at the end of three quarters by scoring 12 straight points early in the fourth, but the Rams made it tough on for 25 minutes.
Despite Brooks’ early scoring flurry, North Thurston led by as many as seven during the first half.
Every field goal in the third quarter caused the shooter’s team to tie the game or take the lead.
Brooklyn Harn, who paced the Rams with 20 points, gave North Thurston its final lead with two free throws to begin the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know why we started slow,” said Timberline coach Tim Borchardt, who has seen his team fall behind early in several recent games. “Maybe tonight it was the overwhelming emotions of the rivalry or the big crowd.
“But it’s confusing that we do it all the time. We’ve tried starting practice differently to try to get to a better mindset at the start of games.”
After being down seven, Timberline worked it’s way back to take a 32-31 halftime lead on a driving layup by Brooks.
Rachel Huynh, who finished with 12 points, provided a key spark with a 3-pointer and a layup off of a steal midway through the second quarter.
“We became more focused on being fundamentally sound at the defensive end,” Borchardt said.
Ultimately, Timberline (12-5, 9-2) got the victory it needed to stay a game behind 3A South Sound Conference leader Gig Harbor heading into Friday night’s matchup against the Tides.
North Thurston (8-9, 3-8), which in addition to Harn’s big scoring night got 14 points from Quinlan Christian, falls to sixth in the league standings.
NT – Harn 20, Brown 5, Reid, Kalama 5, Goodwin 4, Christian 14, Kerbaugh 5
T – Dyas 3, Williams 3, Huynh 12, Bush 2, Borchardt 1, Brooks 34, Gardner, Carter, Harriott 7, Falash 1