Early in the second quarter of Monday’s first 5A state girls basketball tournament game, it appeared Timpview was in for a dogfight against a scrappy West squad.
The Panthers had forced some turnovers and cut the Thunderbird advantage to 16-14.
Then Timpview counterattacked, going on a game-changing 15-3 run that lasted the remainder of the first half and early in the third quarter. West never got within 12 points the rest of the way as the T’Birds advanced with the 60-44 victory.
“We settled in OK, although we never got to the potential of what we could’ve done in this game,” Timpview head coach Aimee Dorais said. “West played physical and got us out of rhythm, but we did enough to get the job done.”
The Panthers were relentless in attacking the glass and offensive rebounds made a big difference early on. Thunderbird junior forward Shaylyn Fano took it on herself to change that.
“Our coach views rebounds and steals as the same because it means you get the ball back,” Fano said. “You can’t score without the ball. When we started possessions with rebounds, we often finished with layups. That was good basketball.”
She played a huge role on the boards, pulling down “16 or 17” rebounds according to Dorais. Fano was also the team’s leading scorer as she poured in 20 points.
She said she knew going into the game that it was going to be a battle.
“In these games, you expect everyone to be physical,” Fano said. “You know it might be your last game so everyone is going hard. What we did was we were able to be smart when being physical.”
Part of that was being able to make adjustments. Dorais explained that when Timpview played West in the preseason, the Panthers made a lot of outside shots.
“We were focused on that and didn’t do as well off the dribble,” Dorais said. “We did a good job switching to stop dribble penetration and then we looked a lot better.”
The Thunderbirds also utilized the matchup advantage they had with the length of junior guard Ella Pope. She forced a lot of turnovers and also got to the basket.
“She had an aggressive mindset,” Dorais said. “They had some issues with her length and when she gets into the open floor, she is pretty untouchable.”
Pope finished with 18 points while junior Madelyn Boulton added nine for Timpview. West got 20 points from Whitney Banz to lead the way in the losing effort.
Both teams had to deal with the issues of the winter weather that hammered the area. Dorais said the Thunderbirds arrived half an hour later than they wanted to.
In the end, however, Timpview accomplished what it needed to and advanced to the quarterfinals. That is particularly sweet for Fano, who missed the 2017 tournament with an injury.
“This feels so good,” Fano said. “I was thinking about how last year I was on the bench cheering on my team. Thinking about where we’ve come from, it’s exciting to see where it goes.”
The Thunderbirds will face Box Elder on Wednesday at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville at 7:30 p.m. with a spot in the 5A semifinals on the line.