How hot were the shooters for the East girls basketball team that played Timpview in Saturday’s 5A state championship?
Late in the first half, the Leopards had two straight 3-point shots that were pretty far off line.
The first hit the rim, bounced high in the air, hit the backboard, hit the rim twice more and rolled in. The second was so far off that it ricocheted off the backboard and through the hoop.
Yeah, it was that type of day for East.
The Thunderbirds simply had no answer for the brilliant Leopard shooting display (26-of-50 overall, 8-of-17 on 3-pointers) and East pulled away to defeat Timpview, 68-48, to win the first girls basketball title in school history.
“East is a really good basketball team,” Thunderbird head coach Aimee Dorais said. “They understood the energy of a state championship game and they backed it up with their shooting. A team can overcome energy or shooting, but it is hard to overcome both. My hat’s off to them. That is a tough team right there.”
Not only did the Leopards make their shots, Timpview couldn’t find the range as the Thunderbirds only hit 17-of-46 shots (37 percent) for the game.
Timpview also made too many mistakes against the East pressure defense. The Thunderbirds had 16 turnovers, 12 in the first half when the hole got too deep to climb out of.
“We might’ve been a little juiced and a little unsure of the size and speed of the opponent,” Dorais said. “I think we second-guessed pulling the trigger a few times. We knew before the game that if we took care of the ball, we would have a good shot at it. When that wasn’t going our way early, then it became, ‘Now what?’ We got out of the normal rhythm because of that.”
The biggest play of the game came with 1:22 left in the first quarter as Timpview junior forward Shalyn Fano — the best T’Bird interior defender — picked up her second foul.
On the ensuing Timpview possession, junior guard Jasmine Espinoza hit a 3-pointer and the Leopard lead was just 14-11, but with Fano having to be tentative, East seized control.
The Leopards went on a massive 21-2 run and the Thunderbirds never recovered.
Timpview tried to rally in the second half but never got closer than 14 points as East always seemed to have an answer.
The Thunderbirds were led by 16 points apiece from Fano and junior guard Ella Pope. The Leopards were paced by Margarita Satini who scored 17 points.
Even though Timpview didn’t get the title it wanted, Dorais said she was proud of the season the Thunderbirds had in 2017-18.
“These kids played basketball in the same way that they choose to carry themselves in life,” she said. “They work their tails off to be the best person they can be. They are unselfish and serve others, and get excited when other people succeed. Because of that type of person they are, it has turned them into incredible basketball players. It’s been a fun and unique experience to see them grow up.”
She believes Timpview’s underclassmen will come back stronger and hungrier for next year.
“I don’t think there has been a drill or anything that we’ve done this season that they haven’t attacked, wanted to win and thought they were going to win,” Dorais said. “It’s a competitive group. The exciting part now is that we are bringing a lot back, so let’s do it again and go finish the job. I’m grateful for the seniors and their efforts, but for the underclassmen I’m excited for the future and what they can do.”