All games on Wednesday, Cascade at Snohomish, 7 p.m., Monroe at Jackson, 7 p.m., Mount Vernon at Edmonds-Woodway, 7 p.m., Kamiak at Arlington, 7 p.m.
The Timberwolves brought back the bulk of a team that went 26-1 last season and made it all the way to the 4A state championship game in the Tacoma Dome. Back are star seniors Jason Todd and Dan Kingma, as well as starters Brian Zehr, Marcus Blake and Conner Willgress. Jackson has remained one of the top two teams in the Associated Press 4A state poll all season while posting a 19-1 record. Its lone loss was to the state's top-ranked 3A team, Lincoln, in the King Holiday Hoopfest at Bellevue College in January.
Todd, a University of Portland recruit, and Kingma – who will walk on at the University of Washington –anchor an experienced squad that features 10 seniors. Jackson won 26 straight games last season on its way to the 4A title game, where it fell to Curtis. That loss has motivated this year's squad to top its second-place finish from 2013.
DARK HORSE: ARLINGTON
Jackson has won every Wesco 4A game it's played by at least 18 points, with Kamiak faring the best in both teams' regular-season finale. Edmonds-Woodway has historically played its Wesco 4A South rival tough, leading in both of the teams' contests last season. However, this year has been a different story, with the Timberwolves defeating the Warriors 79-60 in their first game of the season, and 80-55 when the two teams met again on Jan. 24.
The best bet for an upset appears to be Arlington. Despite being in a different league, the Wesco 4A North champion faced Jackson three times last year – in the regular season, the district championship and the 4A state semifinals. Jackson won by double digits each time – and again 70-51 when the teams played on Jan. 21 of this year – but the Eagles are starting to get some familiarity with the Timberwolves. If Arlington's going to pull off an upset this time around, it's going to need big contributions from seniors Noah Jones, Gavin Smoke, Bradey Brummel and Kaleb Bryson.
DID YOU KNOW?
First-year Monroe head coach Tyson Horner was a member of the very first Jackson boys basketball team. Monroe faces Jackson in the first round Wednesday.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jason Todd, G/F, Jackson
The reigning Gatorade Player of the Year for Washington, as well as The Herald's All-Area Player of the year last season, Todd averaged 21.5 points and 10.8 rebounds. This year, Todd has picked up right where he left off, adding to his trophy case in December when he earned the Most Valuable Player award at the prestigious MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Jackson won the tournament, which featured some of the top prep basketball teams in the country.
The 6-foot-4 Todd can play the guard position and shoot from the perimeter. The senior can also wreak havoc in the post, where he is a rebound and put-back machine.
Todd is one of the seniors on the Jackson team that seemed most affected by last year's championship game loss. He was injured in the contest but continued to play with severe swollen ankle. Todd and the Timberwolves fought back and were almost able to overcome eventual-champion Curtis.
GAME WE WANT TO SEE
Arlington vs. Jackson
As stated earlier, Arlington seems to have the best shot at an upset. We don't cheer for anybody. We just like exciting games, and Arlington appears most likely to give the Timberwolves a run for their money. Can the Eagles avenge their only league loss, and a recent 0-4 streak against the Timberwolves, with a district title on the line?
Jackson wins the district title, Arlington goes to state as the No. 2 seed. Edmonds-Woodway takes No. 3 seed and hosts the No. 3 team out of Kingco in a winner-to-state game, which the Warriors win.
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