Todd started slow, but finished strong, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds to help lead the Timberwolves to a 62-49 victory over Glacier Peak on Friday.
"Jason made some big plays when we kind of really needed it, when we were able to spread the floor and he was able to take his guy off the dribble," Jackson coach Steve Johnson said.
In the grand scheme of things, this was just an early season nonleague game and has no influence on the postseason. But the reality is these are two very good basketball teams with aspirations to make noise at their respective state tournaments. Both coaches seemed to understand what could be taken from a game that ultimately doesn't mean much.
"It's a fun game to play in," Johnson said. "It's kind of a nice neighborhood rivalry. We have a ton of respect for their program. So, to beat them on their home floor is nice that we were capable of that.
"The bottom, big picture moving forward, you know, is that last year we had a tough loss against them and we were able to put together a pretty good season. I'm sure they will put together a pretty good season."
Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hunter had similar thoughts.
"It's one of those games where either way you don't want to overreact," Hunter said. "Last year, we beat them at their place and that was a fun night, but in the end it didn't affect our league, it didn't affect the playoffs. It's a fun game between two really competitive programs."
That said, it was very evident both teams wanted to win.
Jackson jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but the Grizzlies quickly caught up and surpassed the Timberwolves with a 5-0 run. The two teams then traded baskets for the remainder of the period until Todd finally gave the Timberwolves a 13-11 lead late in the quarter with his first 3-pointer of the game. Glacier Peak never led again.
The Timberwolves seized momentum early in the second quarter when Todd passed to Brian Zehr for an alley-oop dunk. Jackson continued to build its advantage for the remainder of the half, taking a 31-24 lead at the break.
"As a team collectively, we just rely on defense if our shots aren't falling," Todd said. "Our first game, Tuesday, our shots weren't falling and we were able to get through some struggles there and that's kind of what we did tonight."
In the third quarter, Glacier Peak made a run behind the Zach Pederson, who scored five of his 14 points in the quarter. But it was really Pederson's defense that allowed Glacier Peak to cut the deficit to 39-34 after three quarters. It seemed every time the Timberwolves tried to penetrate against the Grizzlies' defense in the third quarter, Pederson was there waiting to turn their efforts away.
"Zach is a very good position defender," Hunter said. "He's not going to be guarding the ball end-line to end-line, but inside he does a really good job of keeping his hands up, moving his feet, cutting off some angles and then he is a very good rebounder."
The fourth quarter belonged to Todd and the Timberwolves. Todd scored 11 of his 22 points in the final quarter, but it was a second dunk by Zehr off a pass from Dan Kingma that seemed to put the game away late in the period.
Both of Zehr's dunks seemed to change the game.
"They were good passes first of all," Johnson said of Zehr's dunks. "They were well executed. The fact that he is a lot more gifted athletically than me and he can go up and dunk it, that's nice. But the plays were well executed. The fact that it is a dunk is kind of cool, but I guess I'm old-school, I just like the two points."
Hunter said after the game that Todd is in a class by himself.
"I'll be surprised if we play a better player than him all year," he said. "He's a really, really good basketball player. I know they have had some great ones at Jackson, but I feel like he's the best they have ever had. He's so versatile, strong, he can score from anywhere on the floor and he's a really good defender. He's just a really special player."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Galcier Peak H.S.
Jackson 13 18 8 23 -- 62
Galcier Peak 11 13 10 15 -- 49
Jackson -- Kyle Graff 4, Dan Kingma 16, Jason Todd 22, Brian Zehr 7, Marcus Blake 5, Derrick Bates 0, Connor Willgress 7, Holden Roberts 0, Riley Waite 1. Glacier Peak -- Bobby Brooks 3, Ty Kjellesvik 4, Dreu Vader 6, Russell Anderson 2, Ramsey Rosales 5, Zach Pederson 14, Mitchl Pohrman 13, Trey Chambers 2. 3-point goals -- Todd 2, Kingma 2, Blake 1, Pohrman 1. Records -- Jackson 2-0, Glacier Peak 1-1.
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