For a few brief moments on Tuesday, the best boys basketball team in 5A looked vulnerable.
With Timpview do-everything star Jake Wahlin on the trainer’s table getting an ankle injury examined, region foe Lehi went on a mini 6-0 run to grab the lead late in the first quarter and some important momentum as the road underdog.
Unfortunately for Lehi, even though Wahlin never returned to the game, that momentum was very short-lived. Each of Wahlin’s teammates stepped up in a massive way, both offensively and defensively, as the T-Birds ran away for the easy 73-52 victory for their 11th win in a row.
Timvpiew point guard Coleman Ford picked up the scoring slack in Wahlin’s absence, scoring a new season-high 21 points, with James Rust adding 15 and Jaxon Santiago 12.
“We said at that timeout when Jake was down, we all got to together and said, ‘OK, this game’s going to be won on defense,’ and that’s how we play,” said Ford.
By clamping down defensively, Timpview improved 17-3 on the season and clinched at least a share of the Region 7 title by improving to 9-0 in league play.
Without Wahlin and against a top 5 Lehi team, Timpview probably shouldn’t have been able to make it look so easy on Tuesday. The players embraced the adversity challenge and were motivated by it.
“Everyone kind of looked at each other and said alright, he’s not going to be back so let’s go do that,” said Ford.
After trailing 19-15 after the first quarter, Timpview ripped off a 16-2 run in the second quarter to take a 31-21 halftime lead.
Things eventually got out of hand in the third quarter as Timpview rallied around the energy of its speedy point guard. Late in the third quarter, Ford’s acrobatic reverse-lay even brought Wahlin to his feet from his baseline seat with his ankled wrapped in ice.
“Coleman’s the best point guard in the state; he has been for two years,” said Timpview coach Kevin Santiago. “When he gets going to the rim he’s really hard to stop, and he’s making that extra pass to our shooters, so you have to choose, are you going to stop him or are you going to close out on shooters?”
Regardless of what Lehi was trying on Tuesday, it didn’t work.
Timpview outscored Lehi by a dozen points in the third to push the lead to 57-35 heading into the insignificant fourth quarter.
In nine region wins this season, Timpview’s averaging margin of victory is 12.8 ppg. On many nights, the outcome is already in hand by the fourth quarter, which Santiago said is a tribute to his players’ focus.
“Most of our starters have been starting for three years, so they’ve been there, they feel it. The pain of losing last year to Springville in the state championship game fuels their fire. They don’t ever want to feel that way again, so they come out and play as hard as they can play every game,” said Santiago.
Timpview’s coach said he’s optimistic that Wahlin’s injury isn’t severe, but will know more after he goes in for x-rays on Wednesday. If he’s out for any length of time, his teammates proved on Tuesday that the T-Birds are still the team to beat.