A layup attempt with four seconds remaining by Islanders big man Joe Rasmussen wouldn't fall, as the Blazers escaped with a victory.
TACOMA — Mercer Island was a missed layup from the Tacoma Dome on Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School.
With four seconds left, Islanders center Joe Rasmussen had a look at a shot right under the hoop — one he almost always makes. But he missed, and Timberline escaped with a 56-55 win in the loser-out Class 3A boys basketball regional playoff game.
Mercer Island coach Gavin Cree said “the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” and was literally correct. And he wasn’t talking only about the last shot.
While the fourth-ranked Islanders dictated the first-half pace and led by eight at halftime, they made just 2 of 11 three-point attempts in the first 16 minutes. They were 3 of 16 beyond the arc for the game.
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“We had a lot of shots that I think we make a lot of the time,” Cree said.
Donaven Dorsey helped fuel Timberline’s second-half comeback, and by the end of the third quarter the score was tied at 37.
That’s all Timberline coach Allen Thomas asked of his players at halftime.
“All that I said was, ‘If we can get it tied by the end of the third quarter, we have a chance,’ ” Thomas said. “And we have been battle-tested all year.”
There were eight lead changes in the second half.
Mercer Island led by six with 3:30 remaining before Dorsey scored eight points in less than a minute, putting Timberline up 50-48.
Even though Rasmussen’s shot was well defended, it was about as good a look as the Islanders could have asked for.
“Our original set kind of broke down but (Rasmussen) had a nice seal in there and was open,” Cree said.
The blood on Dorsey’s white shorts at the end of the game showed how hard both teams competed. Dorsey finished with 27 points for the unranked Blazers.
Nick Nordale led the Islanders with 16 points.
Mercer Island claimed its 24th KingCo Conference title earlier this month, but missing the state tournament hurts.
“Our next goal was to get to the Tacoma Dome and it didn’t happen,” Cree said, “and that really stings because we were well prepared and we were ready to do it.”
Columbia River 35
The third-ranked Abes (21-3) used a 17-4 second-quarter run to take control against the Chieftains from Vancouver. Tre’Shaun Fletcher scored 14 for Lincoln. Isaiah Smith had 16 for Columbia River.