SPIRIT LAKE — The Timberlake Tigers’ defense was effective in shutting down the Kellogg Wildcats in the 3A District 1 championship game Wednesday night in the Tigers’ gym.
It may have been tough the naked eye to figure out exactly what it was.
Whatever it was, it worked as top-seeded Timberlake held No. 2 seed Kellogg to four first-half baskets (in 19 attempts) and eased away to a 58-35 victory — Timberlake’s sixth straight district title.
“We played man every possession; we haven’t played one possession of zone all year,” Timberlake coach Matt Miller said. “We just switch a lot of screens, so it looks a little matchup-py.”
Timberlake advances to state for the seventh straight year, and 10th time in 12 seasons.
Timberlake (17-4) will open state vs. top-ranked Sugar-Salem (21-1) next Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PST at Middleton High.
Kellogg (13-8) will plays host to third seed Bonners Ferry (10-12) in the loser-out, second-place game tonight at 6. The winner advances to a state play-in game Saturday at Fruitland.
Bonners Ferry beat Priest River 46-21 in a loser-out game earlier Wednesday.
Timberlake 58, Kellogg 35: Junior guard Taryn Soumas, who was named MVP of the Intermountain League following the title game, hit three 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points for Timberlake. She also had five assists and a couple of steals.
Some of those assists went to Brooke Jessen, a junior post and last year’s IML MVP. Jessen finished with 16 points, and also had six steals.
“Our defense, we did great on talking, and being there for each other,” Jessen said. “Our defense is what really helped us tonight.”
After Darian Hill of Kellogg hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter, the Wildcats were still in the game, down 16-9. But Kellogg didn’t score for nearly seven minutes, as Timberlake ran off a 13-0 run, with Soumas and Jessen feeding each other for baskets, and Soumas drilling a 3 during that stretch.
Senior Jaron Figueroa, who led Kellogg with 15 points, banked in a 3 in the waning seconds, but Timberlake took 29-12 lead into the locker room.
“I was really happy with our defense through the majority of the game,” Miller said. “We struggled a little bit on the defensive rebounding side, but getting out to their shooters, and controlling the paint, I thought we did a really good job. It’s hard to do both.”
Junior post Blayre Jeffs added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench for Timberlake, and senior Taylor Such, junior Olivia Hammond and sophomores McKennah Kronenberg and Karina Sande were pivotal on Timberlake’s perimeter defense.
“Also our offense, we got each other open, and worked as a team to get each other shots,” Soumas said. “We kept the energy up, and it made it really fun.”
Kellogg finished 12 of 46 (26.1 percent) from the field and committed 19 turnovers.
“We struggled shooting,” Kellogg coach Jana Nearing said. “They come out and pressure the ball really well. They’re just really quick on defense; they’ve got fast closeouts, and they can drop back quick on the dribble-drive. We knew it was going to be difficult; we tried to spread everybody out, and tried to get some looks inside. The first half was slow, trying to figure it out; it takes a little bit to adjust to the speed.”
Kellogg 6 6 11 12 — 35
Timberlake 16 13 20 9 — 58
KELLOGG — A. Van Hoose 0, Wendt 0, Allred 0, Ferrierra 2, Hill 5, Figueroa 15, Nearing 9, Cheney 2, Reed 0, Erickson 2.
TIMBERLAKE — Sande 2, T. Soumas 23, Suko 0, Hammond 2, Kronenberg 5, Austin 0, Carhart 0, Jessen 16, Bain 0, Jeffs 10, C. Soumas 0, Wall 0.
Bonners Ferry 46, Priest River 21: Senior Baylee Blackmore scored 21 points to lead the Badgers past the Spartans in a loser-out game.
Senior Karah Fink led Priest River (4-15) with 15 points.
Priest River 7 2 6 6 — 21
Bonners Ferry 12 9 16 9 — 46
PRIEST RIVER — Fitzmorris 2, Rantala 0, Rusho 0, Pound 0, Fink 15, Radan 0, Prudek 0, Palfrey 0, Minish 2, Freitas 2, Shockey 0.
BONNERS FERRY — B. Blackmore 21, Sa. Hill 0, M. Blackmore 0, Petesch 2, Ansley 5, Si. Hill 2, Villelli 9, Pinkerton 7.
TIMBERLAKE — Taryn Soumas, jr. (MVP); Brooke Jessen, jr.; Blayre Jeffs, jr.; Taylor Suko, sr.; Olivia Hammond, jr.. KELLOGG — Hailey Cheney, so.; Jaron Figueroa, sr. BONNERS FERRY — Baylee Blackmore, sr.; Holly Ansley, jr. PRIEST RIVER — Karah Fink, sr.