Timberview trio shoots for Texas state title before taking it to the next level at Houston Baptist

Timia Jefferson, left, and N'Denasija Collins, who have signed with Houston Baptist, have unfinished business at Timberview. Courtesy Rebecca Allison

Timia Jefferson hid under a blanket while her high school basketball teammate N'Denasija "Dee" Collins screamed as loud as she could.

The Timberview (Arlington, Texas) stars were watching a movie called "The Babadook" with several Houston Baptist University players during a recruiting trip last summer.

"At one point, the screen went blank," Jefferson said of the Australian film. "Dee screamed, and I did, too. It was the scariest movie I've ever seen."

A couple of days later, on Aug. 27, 2018, Collins committed to Houston Baptist. And, on Aug. 29, Jefferson told HBU coach Donna Finnie she was coming, too.

Sounds like "The Babadook" did the trick.

"They're so smooth, it's like poetry. It reminds me of why I fell in love with basketball." Kit Kyle Martin

"I felt we got closer as a team during that movie," Jefferson said. "I learned that my [future teammates] aren't going to leave me by myself when the going gets tough."

The plot -- for Houston Baptist recruiting, not the movie -- got even scarier for opponents when Finnie started recruiting a third Timberview player, 5-foot-6 point guard Kennedy Wilson. And, in keeping with the "fright night" theme, Wilson committed on Halloween, joining 5-8 shooting guard Jefferson and 5-11 forward Collins as a trio of Wolves headed to HBU.

Timberview's Kit Kyle Martin, who has helped send dozens of players to Division I programs in 23 years of coaching, including 11 since 2013, said she's never had three athletes go to one school at once. And Finnie, who has been at HBU since 2010, hasn't seen it happen, either.

"It wasn't intentional," Finnie said. "But the more I recruit, the more importance I place on who has coached them previously. [Martin's] players just get it, and they have made quick transitions to college basketball. They play hard, and they understand the game."

Dynamic program

Chennedy Carter, who was the consensus national freshman of the year last season at Texas A&M, is perhaps the best player to come out of the Wolves girls' basketball program.

But she's not the only standout.

Timberview is 142-8 over the past four years, falling just short of a state title ... so far. The Wolves made it to regionals in 2016 and the state championship game each of the past two years. And, of this season's five starters, four of them have made all three of those playoff runs -- Collins; Wilson; 5-9 guard Destiny Jackson, who signed with Rice; and 5-8 guard Mikayla Hutchinson, who signed with Stephen F. Austin.

With all that talent, no one dominates. The balanced Wolves' leading scorer, Jackson, averages 12.3 points.

"Every kid can score, defend and handle the ball," Martin said of her team that is ranked No. 7 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings. "The amount of assists we get is uncommon because they all make the extra pass.

"They're so smooth, it's like poetry. It reminds me of why I fell in love with basketball."

Jefferson, who has played AAU ball with Collins and Wilson since eighth grade, transferred to Timberview this season from nearby Seguin (Arlington, Texas) and has helped make the Wolves even better than they were last season. The team went 40-3. They are 35-1 this season with a 26-game winning streak and a No. 1 ranking among Texas' Class 5A teams. Timberview plays Grapevine (Texas) on Thursday in the second round of the playoffs.

"This year I feel is different," Wilson said. "We are a much faster team this time. We are more focused in practice. We don't want to leave here without a state title."

The next chapter

Of course, no matter what happens during this playoff stretch, it won't be the last time Collins, Jefferson and Wilson compete together.

Martin, who passed the 600-win milestone earlier this season, believes all three of them will be successful at HBU.

"Timia can impact a game in different ways and in a short amount of time," Martin said of Jefferson, who is second on the team with 102 steals. "She can hit a 3, get a steal, make a layup -- all in 30 seconds. She's explosive.

"Dee is a 45 percent 3-point shooter. She's fun to watch because she's a tremendous scorer inside with a beautiful outside shot, and she has added a dimension this season by being tough on the boards (team-high 6.4 rebounds per game).

"Kennedy is the consummate point guard (team-high 3.9 assists per game). She doesn't ever rattle. Teams that make their living pressing won't pressure us because we have Kennedy. She's not the fastest or the biggest, but she's the best at handling the ball and getting it where it needs to go."

Finnie, with the earlier commitment from Jefferson, wasn't initially looking for another guard. But the more she saw Wilson, the more the idea of making her November recruiting haul an all-Timberview affair appealed to her.

"I went to see Timia and Dee, and Kennedy had a flawless practice that day," Finnie said. "What stuck out was that she's a leader. She's more communicative than some college point guards."

When Finnie finally made a scholarship offer in October, it was the first one that Wilson had earned. In the end, she chose HBU over New Orleans, in part because the latter school didn't have her intended major, criminal justice.

"Before I went on my visit [to HBU], my dad said, 'Don't base your decision on where your friends are going,' " Wilson said. "But knowing the chemistry I have with Dee and Timia, it did play a factor."

Collins said she was "surprised" when Jefferson followed her commitment to HBU. But when Wilson made it a Wolves trio, Collins was shocked.

"Wow -- three of our starting five going to the same college," Collins said. "That's crazy."