O’Dea junior guard Noah Williams scored 30 points, while Timberline star Erik Stevenson had a season-high 36.
UNIVERSITY PLACE — Any time the Timberline boys basketball team takes the floor, much of the attention is on senior guard Erik Stevenson, who averages 27.1 points and is committed to play at Wichita State, a national power in recent years.
But O’Dea junior guard Noah Williams is a star in his own right. He proved it with a 30-point performance in the Fighting Irish’s 85-69 victory over the No. 4 Blazers in the first round of the Curtis Winter Classic on Thursday at Curtis High School.
Williams scored 16 points in the first quarter to help O’Dea jump out to a 21-14 lead, and he added another 10 points in the third quarter to power the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish. They will play Foss in Friday’s semifinals.
“What we’re trying to find every game is, what are they trying to take away, and what are they going to give us,” O’Dea coach Jason Kerr said. “I thought Noah did a great job, in his third year starting for us, of really seeing those areas. And then when they did come to take him away, he found the passes, the drops and the kicks that allowed us to keep going and grinding.”
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O’Dea increased its lead to 11 midway through the second quarter, but a 6-0 run by the fourth-ranked Blazers, which included a layup and dunk by Stevenson, cut the deficit to three. The Fighting Irish answered right back with a 6-0 run of their own to take a 38-29 lead at halftime.
Stevenson did his best to keep his team in the game, finishing with a season-high 36 points, but O’Dea’s depth and athleticism proved to be too much for the Blazers to overcome.
“With any great player, you’re trying to look at how he scores, where he scores from and how he’s going to burn you when you try to take that away, and then you try to play the numbers,” Kerr said. “You’re not going to hold Erik scoreless — there is no chance.”
The Blazers played without starting point guard Eli Morton (family emergency), who is averaging 17 points this season.
“Tonight really showed how much we miss him,” Timberline coach Allen Thomas said. “He’s our second-leading scorer. He just does a great job of keeping us in the offense, but tonight it gave our other guys an opportunity to try and play.
“Early on, we just couldn’t find the rhythm, on both ends of the floor. Stevenson played good tonight, but that’s what’s expected. We were kind of looking for one or two guys to step up, and we really didn’t get that steady contribution.”
Kerr acknowledged the game might have played out differently had Morton been able to play.
“That’s a huge hit to take as a team,” Kerr said. “Those are the floor generals. … We’ve got a very different ballgame if he’s here playing tonight, no question.”