(Lacey, WA) The Timberline Blazers rolled into the opening round of the Dist 3 boys basketball tournament with a 14-0 league mark running the table in the South Sound Conference and finishing with a 16-4 overall record and came in as the #7 team in the state RPI rankings. They were set to face a team and school they have been attached from day 1 when they opened in the early 70’s as the 2nd high school in the North Thurston school district.

The North Thurston Rams and Timberline Blazers have been crosstown rivals for more than 50 years and the intensity level is always at another level regardless of record. But when the two teams are close that level skyrockets and the long line of fans waiting for the doors to open more than an hour before game time shows that the community remains heartily invested in this rivalry.

The Rams came in finishing 3rd with a 10-4 in league and 14-7 overall. Their 4 losses were twice to the Blazers 68-60 and 82-79. They also lost twice to 2nd place Gig Harbor. But the Rams had their sights set on taking that next step and pull off the upset which would advance them to the District Semi-Finals but more importantly the winner would advance to state with this win.

As the game opened it was all Timberline  who looked like they were going to run the Rams out of the gym leading at one point 19-6 before taking a 19-10 advantage to the 2nd quarter. Darrell Gipson led the Blazers with 7 to get Timberline off to the fast start with help from Alex Tichenor who hit a pair of 3’s along with Brooklyn Hicks’s 6 while Ray Adams led the Rams also with 6.

In the 2nd quarter the script was flipped and the Rams outscored the Blazers 15-7 and briefly took the lead late in the half. Thad Tenkley started to get warmed up for the Rams with 8 while Adams led all scorers at the break with 10. The Rams trailed Timberline by just 1 26-25.

In the 3rd the Blazers again jumped out quickly and outscored North Thurston 18-10 for a 9 point advantage going into the 4th quarter.  Once again the Rams made a run but it would take some time as the Blazers led by 8 with about 3:30 minutes to play but in the Rams kicked it into gear led by Tenkley who scored 9 of his 23 points in the 4th quarter.

The Blazers had a tough time denying Tenkly once he got in the paint and his teammates did a great job of getting him the ball down low. With 1:45 to play Timberline led 51-46 when Tenkley put back a missed shot by Adams to make it 51-48 with 1:40 to play. North Thurston then cut it to 1 point when Ahren Bee-Richards found Tenkley down low who laid it in with 1:07 to play.

This setup a chaotic finish with turn-overs back and forth to each team while the clock ticked down. With 13-seconds to play the Blazers turned the ball over to North Thurston and the Rams brought it into front court worked it Adams who fed Tenkley and he had an open short shot that literally rolled off the rim and was grabbed by Hicks to end the game.

For Timberline, Cedric Raglund and Kenyon Simmons had solid efforts but Hicks led the scoring with 17, while Tichenor hit for 14 including 4 from deep and Gipson ended with 11. Simmons led the Blazers with 6 rebounds, Hicks had 5 and Gipson 4. Tichenor was the lead thief on the floor with 7 steals while Hicks and Gipson each had 4 while Timberline racked up a total of 18 steals. Tichenor added 5 assists and Hicks 4.

North Thurston got some tremendous efforts off the bench with Micah Anderson, Micah Gentry and Ahmari Steplight all spent time handling the ball. The trio combined for 6 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. Tenkley finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Adams had 15 points, 12 rebounds for the double/double a steal and a block.

Our MVP’s went to Timberline’s Alex Tichenor and the Rams Thad Tenkley. The Blazers are now 17-4 and will face Kelso on Thursday at Auburn High School in the District Semi-Finals. North Thurston drops to 14-8 on the season and now into the consolation bracket where they will host Yelm on Wednesday in a loser out contest.


Hicks 17, Tichenor 14, Gipson 11, Raglund 5, Simmons 4, Jean 3
North Thurston
Tenkley 23, Adams 15, Lusk 5, Gentry 4, Anderson 1, Bee-Ahrens 1, Steplight 1

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