If beating a team three times in one season is difficult, Timberline made it look easy enough.
The Blazers got out in front early — they led by as many as 21 points — and continued to pound in buckets wire to wire to rout South Kitsap, 76-58, on Monday night.
It was the third time this season Timberline bested its 4A Narrows League rival.
Only this time, a loss knocked South Kitsap out of the playoffs in a Class 4A West Central District tournament loser-out game at Stadium High School.
“We finally followed the game plan,” Timberline coach Allen Thomas said. “I think we’re actually clicking at the right time, and you’ve got to owe it to the guys. I think the guys finally bought in to what we’re trying to do.”
Timberline never trailed after Erik Stevenson hit a 3-pointer with four minutes, 56 seconds to play in the first. But it Jaelen Bush’s bucket a minute earlier that kicked off a 20-6 Blazers’ run to close out the quarter.
From there, South Kitsap never trimmed the lead to single digits.
“We’ve been sharing the ball a lot more,” Timberline senior Jarryn Bush said. “And finally locked up on defense, which leads to transition, which leads to sharing the ball, which leads to people wanting to play more defense. It’s like a chain reaction.”
Jarryn Bush scored a team-high 19 points as one of five Timberline players in double digits. Austin Curry added 13, Stevenson and Casson Rouse had 12 apiece and Tariq Romain scored 11.
“Any time that we have more than four guys in double figures, I believe we’re undefeated this year,” Thomas said. “It’s about balance in this game. You can’t key in on one guy.”
Though, on the other side of the ball, the Blazers did.
They dialed in on South Kitsap’s leading scorer, Eric Wattree, limiting him to six points and just one field goal in the first half. Wattree finished with a game-high 20 points, but most of his baskets came when Timberline already had a comfortable lead.
Isaiah Lewis added another 10 for the Wolves.
“It’s hard when you’re playing a guy like Wattree on the perimeter and Lewis inside,” Thomas said. “But I thought today, we kind of put it all together. We tried to make it tough for (Wattree). I know he had to work for each point, and that’s what we were trying to do tonight — make him work.”
Timberline (14-8) advances to play 4A Narrows rival Olympia (19-4) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Stadium. The loser is out. The winner is guaranteed a trip to the regional round of the 4A state tournament.
The Bears edged the Blazers twice this season — most recently in an 82-76 overtime thriller that locked up the league’s No. 2 seed into the district playoffs.
“We had to take two tough loses to get back to reality a little bit,” Thomas said. “I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere here on Wednesday. Wouldn’t want it any other way. Oly versus Timberline. Winner goes to state. Love it.”
South Kitsap 14 13 17 14_58
Timberline 24 17 21 14_76
SK: McMorris 8, Bayne 5, Byrd 6, Wattree 20, Tonkiewicz 9, Lewis 10
T: Romain 11, Curry 13, Rouse 12, Stevenson 12, Jaelen Bush 7, Warick 2, Jarryn Bush 19