Box score

Prior to the 5A boys basketball state tournament, Cottonwood held the No. 2 seed with a 21-1 regular season record.

It was Cottonwood’s best shot at a state semifinal in nearly two decades. However, Timpview had other plans by upsetting the Colts 60-55 to advance to the 5A semifinals.

Timpview gained a quick 8-4 to start the game, but Cottonwood’s Kirath Makhar helped lift the Colts to a 18-18 tie to end the first quarter.

The game remained close throughout the second quarter, but the Thunderbirds edged out a slight 35-33 lead at the half.

Timpview coach Izzy Ingle knew that in the state tournament, close quarter wins can mean the difference between advancing and losing.

“That’s our whole thing, to value every possession, and we wanted to win every quarter. Even if it’s by one or two, focus on every quarter, break it down. They tied us twice and then we won one quarter by three and one quarter by two,” said Ingle.

The Thunderbirds heeded Ingle’s words in the third quarter and outscored Cottonwood by three for a 48-43 lead.

Timpview held its lead throughout the fourth, never giving Cottonwood the chance to take the lead or tie.

Taki Uluilakepa played a key role in Timpview’s quest to hold onto its fourth-quarter lead.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Uluilakepa had been sidelined with a concussion. Uluilakepa was cleared to play in the quarterfinals, which ended up being a season-saving circumstance for the Thunderbirds.

“Taki is an amazing player; we love him and love having him,” Ingle said. “He’s kind of been in and out. He got hurt earlier in region play and missed a couple games early.”

The coach continued, “He came back and had a really bad fall and got a bad concussion, so he has been out for two weeks. But he’s done everything he can to get back on the floor and we’re a different team when he’s there.”

With only a two-point lead late in the fourth, Uluilakepa scored the next four points for the Thunderbirds to put Cottonwood away.

Despite Wednesday’s game being Uluilakepa’s first since the concussion, he led Timpview in scoring with 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal.

“It’s just getting back to myself, getting back to 100%,” said Uluilakepa. “I really just wanted to help my team, that was the main thing. Felt great to be back out on the court. Just trying to help my team and make it as far as we can.”

“I feel like a lot of it is just experience, playing growing up all those years, just a lot of basketball knowledge I feel like is the main thing,” Uluilakepa continued. “Throughout the whole year I’ve had a big role toward the end of games. I love having the ball in my hands at the end of the game. I really trust myself and my whole team. Like I said it’s really just a team thing.”

Timpview lost in last year’s quarterfinal game and is ecstatic to be back in the semifinals against in-region rival Orem.

“It’s exactly what we love, and our region is really tough. Our region is four of the last eight, and we’re going to be three of the last four so we’re battle-tested,” said Ingle. “Our team has been through a lot, we’ve had injuries, and we only had like five games in region where we had our whole team.”

He continued, “Our players never gave up on anything, the next guy stepped up and now we have a lot more experience. We just knew that when everything is clicking at the right time and its state tournament time then that’s all you need.”