I could stop there and that would probably be enough, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't elaborate.
The Timberwolves just kind of reiterated what I already knew about them in their 64-50 victory over Arlington on Friday. The game had a lot of hype around it because Jackson represented the best team in the 4A Wesco South and the Eagles represented the best team in the 4A North. But the game never really lived up to the hype. Jackson jumped on the Eagles early in the game thanks to a great defensive effort on Terry Dawn and had more than enough to hold off Arlington late in the second half.
So here's the story with Jackson: With Dan Kingma, Jason Todd and Brian Zehr they have three legitimate scoring threats and that makes the team nearly impossible to guard. Todd is the leader and continues to get better. He doesn't seem to have a weakness in his game and with the development of his three-point shot this season he can score from anywhere. He is also a dead-eye free-throw shooter which helps the Timberwolves seal games down the stretch. Kingma is beginning to look more and more like his brother all the time. If you leave him open from behind the 3-point line he will bury you and his shooting just opens up the floor for Todd and Zehr. Zehr has also developed into quite the third scorer. He is a strong kid with a lot of lift near the basket. In three Jackson games I have seen this season he has three dunks, which is three more than I have seen by anyone else.
Offensively you know what you are going to get with the Timberwolves, but what is going to make them a threat to bring home a state championship is their ability to play defense, which seems to be improving all the time. Arlington's Terry Dawn is one of the best players in Wesco and Jackson shut him down for an entire half. In fact, they shut down the entire team, holding Arlington to 7-for-25 shooting in the first half.
So as I said earlier, Jackson is really, really good.
Now for the Eagles. My analysis of the Eagles is that they are close to being really good. They have several players besides Dawn that can score, but they also suffer through lulls offensively where they don't produce. Arlington has to learn how to put a 32-minute game together. If they would have played the way they played in the second half for all 32 minutes of Friday's game the score would have been much closer and they might have even come out on top.
All those things said, the Eagles will continue to improve and Friday's game is likely to be a preview of the District 1 championship game. If those two teams do meet again, I think the game will be much more competitive throughout.
Friday night's game was a good thing for the Eagles. They now know exactly how they have to play to be an elite team in the state. Head coach Nick Brown called it, "the greatest practice we could have ever had."
I tend to agree with him, sometimes the hardest part is not knowing how good you are or how good you have to be. I think the Eagles should have a pretty good idea of both of those things after playing Jackson.
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