It’s the style we’re trying to get them to play into where it looks like it’s ugly, but it kind of (suits us). —Timpanogos coach Kawika Akina
TAYLORSVILLE — It may look like jungle ball, but there is a method to the madness.
Full-court pressure, run-and-gun, forced turnovers and quick buckets: They're all part of the master plan at work for the Timpanogos girls basketball team.
And the strategy, as it has been all season, was successful again Wednesday when the Timberwolves rallied from a double-digit deficit to defeat Bountiful, 60-54, in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament at Salt Lake Community College.
“It’s the style we’re trying to get them to play into where it looks like it’s ugly, but it kind of (suits us),” Timpanogos coach Kawika Akina said.
The Timberwolves got off to a slow start Wednesday, something Akina says is also typical of his team, and the Braves reeled off an 11-0 scoring run in the middle of the first quarter. Kennedy Redding, the Braves’ 6-foot-4 sophomore center, had six points during that quarter and made a comfortable home inside the paint.
Timpanogos settled down during the quarter break and made the second period its own. The Timberwolves posted their own eight-point scoring run in the middle of the quarter and went into halftime down by only six, 28-22.
“We just stuck with it. We’ve had slow starts all year,” Akina said. “Once we can make some shots and start getting back in our press, that’s when we gain that momentum. The momentum just starts rolling for us and that helps us get back in the game.”
The Timberwolves employed a full-court press throughout the game, suffocating the Bountiful ballhandlers. On multiple occasions, Timpanogos scored out of its offensive set and then turned right around with a quick steal and a bucket on the ensuing inbounds play.
“We just want to wear teams out. We press and run. We want to push the ball and make them have to run,” Akina said. “We just push and push and push and hopefully they wear out and start making mental mistakes.”
Akina’s team forced Bountiful into 29 turnovers and then recorded 30 points off those turnovers. The Timberwolves shot 43.2 percent from the floor and had 30 points in the paint.
“We can create chaos, confusion, and it looks like it’s jungle ball out there, but it’s more orchestrated,” the coach said. “We’re trying to get it and go and push, because now their bigs have to turn and run back and forth and that’s a lot of energy.”
Senior forward Eternity Galeai kept Timpanogos alive early and led the team throughout the game. She had seven of the Wolves' nine points in the first quarter and then went on to finish with a game-high 25 points. She hit 9 of 16 shots from the floor, recorded three steals and pulled down seven boards.
“She was huge tonight,” Akina said. “Whenever we needed a big bucket, she got it. We went inside to her and she attacked it. She finished well around the basket tonight. I think she was able to get into (Redding’s) body where she wasn’t able to block (Galeai’s) shot, get her in the air, and get by her and that was huge.”
The Timberwolves also had huge contributions from senior guard Jamaica Christensen, who finished with 13 points, six steals and two assists. As a team, Timpanogos had 21 turnovers of its own but totaled 18 steals.
The Braves dished out 11 assists and had 37 rebounds. Senior guard Tiana Dougher led Bountiful with 19 points and six rebounds and Amy Chidester had 10 points and five steals. Redding finished with 12 points and 16 boards for the Braves, and thoroughly impressed the opposing coaching staff.
“Kennedy Redding is just really, really good, and she’s only a sophomore, too,” Akina said. “She’s going to be a force. I like her; I wish she was on my team. I need height.”
Timpanogos will meet Springville in the semifinals Friday at 5:50 p.m.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.