Timberline High School was shorthanded Thursday night in University Place, in what was projected to be a matchup of two of Class 3A’s top teams.
Missing veteran point guard Eli Morton, the No. 7 Blazers dropped their second loss of the season to No. 4 O’Dea, 85-69, in the first round of the Curtis Winter Classic.
“I think it makes a tremendous difference,” Timberline coach Allen Thomas said. “Right now he’s the heart and soul of our team, because he plays offense and defense.
“Tonight, he was truly missed. But, I would say for us to have 69 points without a guy out there averaging (17 points per game), it wasn’t bad.”
Wichita State signee Erik Stevenson scored a game-high 36 points — including six 3-pointers — to lead the Blazers, but O’Dea went largely contested at the other end.
The Fighting Irish took the lead early in the first quarter on Noah Williams’ second basket of the game, and never lost it.
Williams, a junior and likely Division I recruit, finished with a team-high 30 points, scoring 16 in the first quarter to help O’Dea pull away early.
“Noah coming out with a hot start didn’t help our efforts tonight, but we’re not making any excuses,” Thomas said.
“We’re a good team, we know we’re still good. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board, and come right back (Friday) and get ready to play.”
Stevenson’s scoring performance — a season-high that pushed his average to 27.1 points per game — kept the Blazers within reach for most of the game, but the Irish never faltered.
O’Dea took a 38-29 lead into the break, and scored on nearly every possession in the third quarter to keep a comfortable margin.
Timberline never cut the lead to less than nine points in the second half, and five players finished in double figures for the Irish.
Paolo Banchero chipped in 15 points for O’Dea, while Joshua Mosley, John Christofolis and Cal Hansen each had 10.
“It was good to get that experience against an up-tempo team that has more than just a guard,” Stevenson said.
Casson Rouse and Jamin Faalogo each added nine points for Timberline to supplement Stevenson.
The Blazers used a combination of several players to help fill in for Morton, but his absence was noticed at both ends of the floor.
Still, Stevenson said it was good to play a competitive Metro League team early in the season to start to get an idea of what the playoffs could look like.
“They’re going to get better, we’re going to get a lot better,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can have that matchup again, but at full strength.”
Timberline (6-2) meets Marysville-Pilchuck (7-1) in a consolation game at 4 p.m. Friday at Curtis High School.
The Tomahawks lost to defending 2A state champion Foss in the tournament opener, 83-52.
O’Dea (4-1) plays Foss (7-1) in the semifinals at 7 p.m.
NO. 4 O’DEA
NO. 7 TIMBERLINE
O – McAloon 8, Williams 30, Mosley 10, Davis 2, Christofolis 10, Hansen 10, Banchero 15
T – Rouse 9, Campau 2, Lacy 3, Stevenson 36, Joubert 2, Warick 2, Melad 4, Faalogo 9, Lyall 2