For classmates Jeff Woodward and Brett Eberly, Erik Timko has pretty much always been the ‘go-to guy.’
From their days playing travel basketball for the Audubon Recreation Association to their senior seasons at Methacton High School, Timko’s teammates have had confidence in his ability to put the ball in the hoop.
The difference the past two years was that a lot more people began to notice.
“All of us who grew up with Erik … we all knew he had the potential to do the things he has done the past two seasons, this year especially,” Woodward said. “For him to show everybody else the things he can do, and the things he’s continuing to do, it’s just been really cool … You put your head down, you do work everyday like he does and you can accomplish anything you want to do.”
In just two seasons at the varsity level, Timko accumulated more than 1,000 points while helping the Methacton program reach new heights that included three straight Pioneer Athletic Conference titles, a District 1 championship and back-to-back PIAA quarterfinal appearances.
The rapid rise of the 6-foot-3 sharpshooter, who recently committed to Jefferson University, helped him become the 2019-20 Mercury All-Area Player of the Year.
“I felt like I made those improvements in the offseason, just overall working on my game in the gym and obviously getting stronger in the weight room,” Timko said. “I felt like my coaches helped me progress over those years, and just really gave me the confidence I needed and I just believed in me. My teammates also helped a ton, just pushing me to be the best I can be.”
Timko saw a few late minutes in some lopsided wins during his sophomore season at Methacton, but didn’t record a varsity point. Instead, he lit it up at the junior varsity level, where he was the Warriors’ team MVP.
The Warriors graduated just one senior from their 2017-18 PAC championship squad, so something would have to change for Timko as a junior to crack the varsity lineup.
Methacton coach Jeff Derstine said it was immediately evident when the team gathered together for offseason activities before the 2018-19 season that Timko would play a large role for the Warriors. But even he did not foresee the level at which Timko would play at during a breakout junior campaign.
Timko was second on the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, which ranked fifth in the PAC, and knocked down 78 threes in 2018-19 to earn second team all-area honors as the Warriors won consecutive league titles, reached the District 1-6A quarterfinals and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time in history.
“I always felt that I could impact the team in a big way,” Timko said. “Coming into my junior year, I had a lot more confidence and felt better about my game as the year went on. At the start of junior year, I was a little indecisive because obviously I was a little nervous and stuff. But as the year kept going on, I really developed and I just felt like it was continual.”
With the graduation of David Duda, a 1,000-point scorer now at East Stroudsburg, Timko needed to take another step forward in his senior year as the Warriors entered the 2019-20 season with eyes on making more school history. Even with Woodward, a 6-foot-10 Colgate commit, occupying defenses’ attention down low, Timko would be a marked man out on the perimeter.
Timko has always been a lethal shooter as his father Tim, who played at North Penn and Ursinus College, helped him hone his shooting stroke at an early age. This past offseason, he put in a lot of time in effort to expand his game, focusing on improving his midrange game, shooting off the bounce and even adding some post moves to his arsenal against smaller guards.
Last spring, Timko decided to stop baseball, instead playing AAU with Woodward and Eberly at East Coast Power. He put more time in the weight room and developed physically, which allowed him to do things like put in a putback dunk over Woodward at practice and feel comfortable driving down the lane, either drawing a foul or finishing through contact as he attempted 117 free throws this season.
“Erik just took another giant step,” Woodward said. “The growth he had in just one summer, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t know any other player who I’ve seen that’s taken such a drastic leap from where he was to where he is now.”
Starting with a 23-point outing against eventual PAISAA runner-up Malvern Prep in Methacton’s opener, Timko was a consistent scoring presence throughout the year. During the regular season he scored 20-or-more points 12 times, including two 30-point outings, and failed to reach double figures just one time in 30 games.
On the season, Timko averaged 20 points per game, while shooting 56.7 percent from the field, an incredible 45.6 percent from 3-point range and 91.4 percent from the free throw line. His 600 points this season broke the program single-season record set by former Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Brendan Casper in 2012-13.
“I think he realized he could take over a game if needed, but really he wanted to make sure everybody was getting involved,” Woodward said. “I think that was a big part of our team success was he would never go out and hunt a shot. … This year he was our primary scorer, we were running a lot of sets for him, but he did everything that we asked him to do, scoring, defensively and playing within the system and not trying to do too much.”
While Woodward described Timko as a ‘goofy kid,’ he also mentioned how focused he is. Whether it was in a game, practice or a film session, Timko was usually the one to speak out and make sure the Warriors had their minds on the task at hand.
As he carved up defenses this season, Timko rarely showed his emotions, something his teammates often joke with him about. Timko’s presence helped make sure Methacton never let itself get too high or too low, though there weren’t very many lows this season.
“I think Erik’s demeanor, a business-like demeanor, focused on the task at hand, I think that quality really shone through for his team,” Derstine said. “For Erik you see him crack a smile, and I think that’s an emotional outburst.”
Timko continued to steady the Warriors into the postseason as he saved some of his best performances for the biggest stage, averaging 21.5 points per game in four district and two state playoff games.
In the Warriors’ District 1 semifinal win over Chester at Temple’s Liacouras Center, Timko settled Methacton after his team fell into an early hole and finished with 25 points in an 81-54 win.
Against Cheltenham in the District 1 championship game at Temple, Timko was practically unguardable, knocking down his first seven shots as he finished with 27 points to lead Methacton to a 73-48 win and the first district title in program history.
Timko added 18 in Methacton’s PIAA opener against Harrisburg and 22 more in the second round win against Abraham Lincoln, when he exploded with four threes in the first quarter to send Methacton on the way to another lopsided playoff win.
“It was really special because that was one of our goals this year to get to Temple and win districts,” Timko said. “It was really special that we were able to achieve that as a group. It was a great experience being down there for the first time and getting our school down there for the first time, it was really something special. Especially with all of our fans and all the support we had. That made it even better.”
Timko and his teammates finished the regular season as the top-ranked Class 6A team in the state. Their PIAA quarterfinal matchup with Roman Catholic, one of just two teams to take down the 28-2 Warriors this season, will never take place after the cancellation of the winter sports championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Warriors won’t finish their state quest, the senior group, which includes Timko, Woodward, Eberly and Owen Kropp, has left a lasting imprint on the program. Timko’s patience, perseverance and quiet leadership in particular have set an example for others who come through the Methacton boys basketball program.
“Just understanding the value that he brought in helping the entire program grow, helping everyone in the program get better and just modeling how to get better as a player,” Derstine said of Timko’s impact. “The selflessness and the confidence he showed on the court just rubbed off on his teammates as well. That senior group kind of fit perfectly together with their personalities, with their skill sets, in every way.”