ENID, Okla. —
Timberlake’s girls must have not heard of the famed publisher Horace Greeley who said “go west, young man.’’
In their case, he might have said “go east, young woman.’’
For the third straight year, Timberlake’s girls are going east for the Class B playoffs. The last two years have been rewarding as the Lady Tigers captured area championships.
This year is a little different.
Timberlake, in the past, had been joined by Cherokee Strip Conference rivals Deer Creek-Lamont and Burlington.
In fact, Timberlake beat DCLA in the area winners bracket finals the last two years. The Lady Eagles beat Burlington in the losers bracket finals both times, testimony to the strength of the West.
But this year, the Lady Tigers are all alone against the eastern competition as both Burlington and DCLA were sent west.
“That makes it harder to get film without anything to grade in return,’’ said Timberlake head coach Kale Pierce. “We have our work cut out for us.’’
So will Timberlake’s opposition. The Lady Tigers (19-4) delivered a message Friday with a 58-43 win over No. 3 Lomega behind 21 points from Ami Adkisson, and 14 from Tiffany Schlup.
“We feel a lot better about our chances after tonight,’’ Pierce said after the game. “That gave us a big boost of confidence.’’
Timberlake was at its best at crunch time, outscoring the Lady Raiders 22-15 in the final period. They were 12 of 13 from the foul line in the final eight minutes. They had jumped out to a 14-4 first-period lead.
“We stepped up and made plays and that made it fun to watch,’’ Pierce said. “We had our chances to fold (held to five points in the third period), but we didn’t.’’
Pierce said he would put his schedule up against anybody’s. The Cherokee Strip had three teams at state a year ago.
“That really prepares us for the playoffs,’’ he said. “People say we have an easy schedule because we play all Class A and B teams, but I think our schedule is harder than any 2A teams.’’
Timberlake has lost to Pond Creek-Hunter, ranked No. 4 in Class A, and to Burlington, ranked No. 7 in Class B, twice.
Whoever made out Timberlake’s area (Area II) must have owned a bus company.
The area includes Bluejacket in the far northeastern corner of the state, and New Lima in the southeastern part of the state.
Timberlake faces the Shidler/Mulhall-Orlando winner at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the district finals. They would play at Shidler on Feb. 20 in the first round of regionals, and then go to Cleveland for the rest of the tournament.
The area playoffs are set for Sand Springs.
“Everybody is going to be traveling a lot more than they are used to,’’ Pierce said.
The only non-western team Timberlake has played this season was South Haven, Kan., a team they beat 64-38 in the first round of the Pond Creek-Hunter Tournament Dec. 14.
However, the Lady Tigers have scrimmaged some eastern teams and history is on their side. They beat east teams Oilton (77-39), Asher (68-36) and Coyle (56-35) at area last season, and Mulhall-Orlando (68-25), Graham-Weleetka (58-52) and Shidler (59-21) in 2012.
If teams live up to their rankings, Timberlake is projected to face No. 11 New Lima in the regional finals and No. 2-ranked Red Oak in the area finals. Red Oak beat the Lady Tigers 49-41 in the first round of state two years ago.
Timberlake has four seniors with plenty of playoff experience — Adkisson, Hailey Parker, Cidney Thompson and Haley Blewitt. Schlup, a sophomore, is regularly in double figures. Junior Raven Bishard is dependable off the bench.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.ꆱ