But Dan Kingma and Jason Todd put an end to that.
Todd scored 21 points and Kingma added 16 — all in the second half — as Jackson came-from-behind to defeat Bellevue 58-55 Monday afternoon at the King Holiday Hoopfest at the Brougham Pavilion at Seattle Pacific University.
"We just figured out a way to win," Kingma said. "And that's what we like to do."
The game featured 12 lead changes, with the final — and most important — one coming in at around the four-minute mark, with Kingma making two free throws to give Jackson a 51-49 lead.
The Timberwolves went 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the final quarter, with Todd making four clutch free throws in the final minute to keep Jackson out in front.
"Those were huge," said Jackson head coach Steve Johnson. "He's clutch at the free throw line. He's used to pressure moments and is definitely a guy that embraces that situation."
Jackson (16-0 overall) — the No. 4 team in the Associated Press 4A poll — got off to a quick start thanks to two Timberwolves in particular. Todd and Brian Zehr (17 points) were the only Jackson players to score in the first half, leading the Timberwolves to a 25-23 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter the Bellevue offense exploded for 21 points, giving the Wolverines a 44-41 advantage going into the final period. Jackson was able to keep it close, thanks in large part to Kingma who netted 11 in the third quarter after shooting 0-for-8 in the first half.
"I knew that Dan could shoot better," Johnson said. "He's not going to miss forever. It was a big key to the game for us when he started making shots. If he doesn't score we're obviously in big trouble."
Kingma wasn't sure what happened to his shot in the first half. He said he was just determined to continue to put up good shots in the second half.
"I just kept shooting," said Kingma. "In the first half I got good looks they just weren't going in. I hit those shots all the time. It wasn't nerves. It was adrenaline, which is a good thing."
Kingma added five in the fourth quarter and Todd accounted for eight Jackson points — six of which came from the free throw line.
It was the third time this season that Jackson trailed in a game. The Timberwolves had to come-from-behind against Monroe and Edmonds-Woodway earlier this season.
Todd — who also grabbed 11 rebounds — said that while the Timberwolves aren't used to trailing on the scoreboard, it's good to get that experience for later on in the season, saying it makes Jackson "battle tested."
"It's different, obviously, when you're not accustomed to it," Todd said. "We showed great poise. We got a great point guard in Dan. We were fortunate to get him going in the second half."
The King Holiday Hoopfest is an annual event for some of the best prep basketball teams in the area honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year several of Washington's top teams attended, including Jackson, Rainier Beach, Bothell, Garfield and Franklin.
It was the first holiday tournament for Todd since his freshman year, when Jackson lost a game to Lincoln at the University of Washington. The junior said it's a lot of fun to play in games with packed stands, much like there was at Brougham Pavilion on Monday.
"It's surreal. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Todd. "You don't get to play with crowds like this all the time. You've just got to enjoy it. Take it all in."
Senior forward Michael Carlson led Bellevue (9-6) — out of the KingCo 3A/2A conference — with 13 points and nine rebounds. Jackson Rezab and Jack Walton added 11 points apiece for the Wolverines, who have dealt with some injuries and illnesses so far this season.
Despite that, Johnson said this was still a good, tough team for Jackson to play as it continues to get ready for the rapidly-approaching postseason.
"When you play against a physical, athletic team like this it's always fun," Johnson said. "There'll be a lot more games like that to come."
At Royal Brougham Pavilion, Seattle Pacific University
Jackson 16 9 16 17 — 58
Bellevue 11 12 21 11 — 55
Bellevue—Kyle Foreman 5, Sharif Khan 0, Quin Barnard 3, Timmy Haehl 9, Jackson Rezab 11, Michael Carlson 13, Gunther Klimes 3, Dylan Foreman 0, Jack Walton 11. Jackson—Kyle Graff 3, Dan Kingma 16, Jason Todd 21, Brian Zehr 17, Marcus Blake 0, Derrick Bates 0, Connor Willgress 0, Holden Roberts 0, Riley Waite 1. 3-point goals—Barnard 1, Rezab 2, Kingma 4, Zehr 1, Graff 1. Records—Jackson 16-0 overall. Bellevue 9-7.
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