TACOMA - With a starting lineup that featured four sophomores and a junior, it would have been easy for the Wilson High Rams to blame their lack of experience or senior leadership for Wednesday night’s loss.
But with the game in limbo in the final 20 seconds, it came down to discipline and focus.
And the No. 6 Rams didn’t have much of either against No. 3 Timberline as Wilson suffered a 52-47 loss in a matchup of the top two girls basketball teams in the Class 3A Narrows League.
“If you ask me why we lost this ballgame, it’s because we did not focus well enough in practice yesterday, and (reason No.) 2 is we didn’t execute our game plan to a ‘T’ because of our focus,” Wilson coach Michelle Birge said. “You can have a lot of talent but without focus and discipline, you aren’t going to win these type of ballgames.”
But the Rams (11-3 overall, 3-1 Narrows) had their chances. Trailing 46-45 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Kaysha Fox made a pair of free throws to put the Rams up by one point.
The score stayed that way until Timberline’s Camille Williams hit a baseline runner with 20 seconds to play to put the Blazers back in the lead. Wilson had a chance to take back the lead with 15 seconds to go, but the Rams turned the ball over on an inbounds pass. After the Blazers (14-0, 4-0) made one of two free throws, Bethany Montgomery’s game-tying 3-point attempt didn’t hit the rim with 5 seconds left.
“When it came down to crunch time, our decision-making wasn’t the best it could have been,” said sophomore center Tia Briggs, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
Wilson also missed an opportunity to hand the Blazers their first loss. Timberline played nearly the entire second half without their best player, junior forward Cymone Martin. She picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter and fouled out with 5:05 to play.
“All part of the game plan,” Birge said. “Their role players stepped up.”
Martin finished with nine points, four rebounds and one block as the Blazers held on when she was out of the game.
“That was a tough thing for us,” Timberline coach Zandrea Edenstrom said. “The biggest thing I told the girls is that we were winning when she sat the whole third quarter in foul trouble. Cymone is a key player to lose but they knew they could do it without her because they were doing it the quarter before. That’s the confidence they needed to have that one player isn’t going to take our game away.”
Timberline opened an 11-point lead after the third quarter, thanks to a 7-0 run over the final minute of the period. Williams led Timberline with 13 points, while McKenzie Raben added 10.
Nina Caldwell led Wilson with 14 points.