Fortunately for the Timberwolves, they led by 19 going in.
Jackson got off to a fast start and held off a charging Cougars team to become the first team not from the state of California to win the 11th annual MaxPreps Holiday Classic with a 54-45 win over Capital Christian, of Sacramento, Calif., in the championship game late Monday night.
"It's awesome. It's a great feather in our cap," said Jackson head coach Steve Johnson. "I told the guys as exciting as it is and as proud as I am to represent our state we have other goals moving forward down the road. No question for us though, to clinch a prestigious tournament like this, we're honored and thrilled."
Click here to view tweets about Jackson's MaxPreps Holiday Classic win.
The Timberwolves got off to a quick start with a 10-2 run in the first quarter that was spearheaded by two Dan Kingma 3-pointers. Kingma had two more in the second quarter and tallied 14 of his 18 points by halftime. Jackson led 24-16 at the half.
Jackson sophomore Sam Saufferer had five straight points in the third quarter for Jackson, which padded its lead with a 19-8 advantage in the quarter.
"It was great to start out with some confidence," Johnson said. "You always want to start off on a positive note. The game kind of went our way early, mostly because Dan was shooting so well. We were able to find him and get good shots."
However, the Timberwolves would be thankful for all of them in the fourth.
Capital Christian scored the first eight points of the final period and kept Jackson scoreless until Brian Zehr got a basket with 5:10 left in the quarter. A 3-pointer and free throw by D.J. Wilson capped a 19-6 Capital Christian run that saw the Cougars get within six, 49-43.
But the Timberwolves, who shot 7-of-9 from the free throw line, closed the game out with a pair of free throws by Kingma and Jason Todd to seal the win.
"They're a quick athletic team. I thought they'd make a run," Johnson said. "I thought we got a little carried away. The game wasn't over. We weren't ready for the intensity they were going to bring. But that happens. Fortunately, we had a big enough lead. Now we have something to work on."
Todd, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, had a double double in every game of the tournament and continued that streak Monday night. Todd finished with 11 points and played tough defense, including Wilson who he helped hold scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Connor Willgress had eight points for Jackson and Zehr — who had the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Timberwolves' 53-52 semifinal win over Long Beach Poly — added six.
Jackson, which finished second in the 4A state tournament last season, left for Southern California on Christmas evening undefeated, albeit having played only two games.
Four games later Jackson will return to its home state still undefeated, after winning the 11th annual MaxPreps Holiday Classic.
Tyler Jennings had a game-high 20 points for Capital Christian. Wilson added 10, all coming in the Cougars' fourth-quarter run.
At Rancho Mirage H.S.
Jackson 12 12 19 11 -- 54
Capital Christian 7 9 8 21 -- 45
Jackson--Nick Hovorka, Dan Kingma 18, Jason Todd 11, Brian Zehr 6, Marcus Blake 4, Holden Roberts 2, Connor Willgress 8, Sam Saufferer 5, Blake Ozuna 0. Capital Christian--Uchenna Iroegbu 6, D.J. Wilson 9, Jason Hope, Marcelas Perry 4, Tyler Jennings 20, Justice Mosely 2, Edward Ware 2, Nick Aibuedefe 2, Tiegen Jones 0. 3-point goals--Kingma 4, Todd 1, Blake 1, Saufferer 1, Jennings 3, Wilson 1. Records--Jackson 6-0 overall. Capital Christian 14-2.
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