The final score was really only the story of the fourth quarter.

Cherry Hill East's 59-46 win over Timber Creek was a physical, well-played basketball game. At times, it looked more like a playoff game than opening night of the regular season.

And until an onslaught of scoring by the Cougars to open the fourth quarter, it was a close game.

Trailing by a bucket to start the final period, Cherry Hill East (1-0) opened the quarter on a 15-0 run, putting the game out of Timber Creek's reach.

"We just wanted to prove ourselves tonight," said forward Michelle Onu. "I think we came out with a lot of intensity, and that's what helped us at the end of the game."

Onu's aggressive play led to eight points, four blocks, and a game-changing 20 rebounds.

The senior wreaked havoc underneath the basket all game, forcing Timber Creek to miss layups and short jumpers throughout the second half.

Timber Creek (0-1) "is a really aggressive team and it was their home opener," Onu said. "We knew we had to come out strong defensively."

The Cougars' run to start the fourth quarter was in contrast to Timber Creek's run to open the third quarter. Trailing by 26-20 to start the second half, Timber Creek scored seven straight points in the first minute of the second half.

Five of those points were scored by guard Jasmine Martin.

The senior, bound for Quinnipiac University, scored a game-high 30 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and four steals.

"We came out fired up in the third quarter," Martin said. "And in the fourth quarter, we got the shots, but we just couldn't put the ball in the basket.

"I think we were trying to force it a little bit . . . But we're not going to dwell on this loss at all. We're just going to take this as a learning experience."

Helping the Cougars hang onto the lead in the fourth quarter was a solid team effort at the foul line. Cherry Hill East hit 15 of 17 free throws in the final quarter.

Leading that effort was Marie Boisvert. The senior was 6 for 6 from the line in the fourth quarter and 10 for 10 in the game.

Boisvert finished with a team-leading 26 points. She hit two big shots in the final seconds of both the first and second quarters to help her team end both with the lead.

"It was a great game," said Cougars coach Kim Keyack. "In the third quarter, I was convinced this was going to be a two- or four-point game the whole time.

"So for an opening game it was a little bit nerve-racking. But, in the end, we pulled away, which was nice."

Cherry Hill East   12 14 8 25 - 59

Timber Creek   6 14 16 10 - 46

CH: Brittany Munic 1, Caroline DiBartolomeo 7, Marie Boisvert 26, Lillian Chukwueze 8, Michelle Onu 8, Darby Festa 9.

TB: Jasmine Martin 30, Sierra Peters 2, Alexis Riff 5, Raven Jones 2, Deanna Miller 7.

Contact Chris Melchiorre