OREM In a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated, the Timpview T-Birds began the defense of their 4A state title with a 50-37 victory over Bonneville in the first round of the playoffs.
"It's a good win to get out of the way ... to get all of our jitters out," said Timpview coach Kawika Akina as his No. 1 team makes its way through a minefield with a target on its back.
Next up for Timpview is Murray at 2:30 p.m. today. The Spartans won a thriller against Dixie, while Timpview rested its starters for much of the contest.
"It's good to get them some rest and to get some more people playing time," added Akina, who is hoping his team is hitting its stride at just the right time just like it did during last year's playoffs.
Timpview blew up in the third quarter, pouring 21 points into the hoop after scoring just 18 in the first half. The T-Birds pride themselves on coming on strong at the starts of the first and third quarters and got just what they'd hoped for.
Though the Lakers were able to hold Alexis Kaufusi to only two points in the first half, she came on strong in the second to finish with 12, but it was defensively that Kaufusi made her biggest impact. She recorded six blocks in the contest to go along with her seven rebounds.
Timpview rushed out to the early advantage by virtue of scoring 13 points of its own and holding the cold-shooting Lakers to zero field goals and one mere free throw in the entire first quarter. Bonneville didn't manage to get on the scoreboard until Caitlin Penrod sunk one freebie with 1:30 left in the stanza.
The T-Birds were happy to have had that cushion as they fought their way through a lackluster second quarter, allowing the Lakers to outscore them 10-5 in the second, using a pair of treys from Jen Bell and Roxie McFarland to fire them up.
Gabrielle Pinegar led the way for the T-Birds in the first half with eight points and two treys, while her teammates had a difficult time getting into the scoring column. She finished the game with 14 points and four assists. Meanwhile Chelsea Bridgewater came on strong with five steals in addition to her game-high 15 points and four rebounds.
Akina does think winning the state championship last year gives his team a slight edge because the "girls that return know what to expect," he said. But in addition to that edge, his team does have to battle this season from the vantage of being No. 1 in the state rather than coming out of nowhere to take the title.McFarland led the Lakers with 11 points, and Penrod added eight for Bonneville. Jen and Jordyn Bell each scored six.