MIDDLETON — Once the defending state 3A champion Timberlake girls basketball team stepped on the throttle in Thursday’s state tournament opener, there was no stopping the Tigers, in a 67-16 win over Teton.
Whether it was an 18-point first quarter by Keelie Lawler, or the team holding Teton to four field goals — for the game — to tie a 27-year old classification record for fewest points allowed, it was almost a perfect storm.
“The kids did a great job on both ends,” Timberlake coach Matt Miller said. “Offensively, they were on the attack early and hit our first couple of 3-pointers, which helped. The defense led to easy offense and ... I was really happy with how we defended in the paint tonight.”
“It was a lot of my teammates creating steals and getting me the ball,” said Lawler, who has signed to play at NCAA Division II Western State Colorado. “It was open for me and I was just taking open shots.”
Timberlake (21-2) will face Parma in tonight’s second semifinal at Middleton High at 7 PST. Parma beat Marsh Valley, last year’s runner-up, 52-46 in Thursday’s late game.
Junior Shelby Starr added 15 points for Timberlake, which led 42-13 at halftime and held Teton to three points in the second half.
Snake River allowed 16 points in a 1990 state tournament game.
Lawler scored the first six of the night for Timberlake, and didn’t stop there, finishing with 22 points in the game.
“She hit a couple of shots early and got a couple of easy one’s off the press,” Miller said. “She was on the receiving end of some good team plays. It was great to see.”
Timberlake forced 28 turnovers en route to its 14th straight win.
“That’s the biggest thing we focused on this week was paying attention to details,” Miller said.
In last year’s semifinals, Teton pushed Timberlake to the limit before the Tigers pulled away for a 75-64 win on the road to their first state title in program history. There wasn’t a repeat performance on Thursday.
“They definitely had our attention,” said Miller of Teton, who had been ranked second behind Timberlake in the state girls basketball media poll for most of the season. “They were our toughest game down here last year, and really just took us apart inside and we didn’t have an answer for them. They played a really tough game. We knew they were a great team. But we just talked about us and the things we’re trying to do on defense and the process.”
In last year’s semifinals, Jenna Abbott scored 30 points and Teton finished 28 of 40 from the field. On Thursday, the Tigers held Abbott to four points.
We’ve been going hard on defense in practice this week,” Lawler said. “We really did a great job of executing our scout and doing what we needed to do.”
Teton 4 9 2 1 — 16
Timberlake 24 18 16 9 — 67
TETON — Arnold 2, Berry 2, Abbott 4, A. Kunz 5, W. Kunz 1, Nelson 0, Wade 0, Lasson 0, Kaufman 2, Steit 0, H. Lasson 0, Brown 0. Totals 4-32 7-8 16.
TIMBERLAKE — Tonkin 4, Starr 15, Kirby 7, Cheevers 2, Lawler 22, Kelley 3, Kronenberg 0, Mallet 4, Jezek 7, Linehan 3, Bronson 0. Totals 25-46 10-17 67.