By David Krueger Herald Writer
TACOMA — Dan Kingma and Jason Todd have been dreaming about this for a while.
Now the whole Jackson basketball team can dream.
The pair of juniors talked on the bench in the final moments of Jackson’s 4A state semifinal game, excited for what was next: the state championship. The Timberwolves clinched a berth in the title game for the first time since 2010 Friday night with a 68-41 win over Wesco rival Arlington at the Tacoma Dome.
“It hasn’t sunk in,” Todd said. “I was telling Dan with a minute left, we were talking, we’ve grown up playing together. We were saying it really is a dream come true. I love this group of guys. I can’t wait for (the title game). We’ll be ready.”
Jackson faces Curtis (26-2 overall) in the 4A state championship today at 9 p.m.
Todd scored 20 points and Kingma added 19 for the Timberwolves, which controlled the game from the opening quarter on. Todd nearly had a double-double at halftime, with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Kingma got things going from behind the 3-point arc early with three 3’s in the second quarter.
He finished with five in the game.
“It’s an emotional game,” Kingma said. “But when you’re hitting them you have to keep shooting.”
After Arlington tied the score at 10, the Timberwolves had seven consecutive points leading to a 31-11 run to end the first half. Jackson had more points in the second quarter (25) than Arlington had in the first half (21).
Arlington actually outscored Jackson after the break, winning the third quarter 18-16. But the Eagles’ deficit proved too large, and both teams’ offenses sputtered in the final quarter as reserves came in to get some playing time.
Brian Zehr recorded a double-double for Jackson with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We have so many guys that just know their roles,” Kingma said. “Some of them aren’t glamorous but everyone does what they have to.”
Jackson head coach Steve Johnson praised his entire team, pleased with everyone’s contribution to the win.
“(Todd) is an incredibly consistent performer. I honestly don’t think I can ever say he’s had a down game. I thought everyone was pretty locked in tonight,” Johnson said. “… Dan found his stroke. We just fired on all cylinders.
Todd got a hug from a special someone after the game. His older brother Ryan, who was on that 2010 Jackson team and now plays for Seattle Pacific University, came up to him and received a sweaty hug from his younger brother.
The younger Todd remembers receiving a similar hug three years ago.
“There’s just something about that,” Todd said. “He just told me, ‘enjoy it.’”
It was the third time this year Jackson has defeated Arlington, winning 64-50 at Jackson High School on Jan. 11 and 58-42 in the district championship on Feb. 15.
Terry Dawn had 17 points to lead Arlington (22-4), which faces Garfield (24-2) in the 3rd/5th place game today at 11:15 a.m.. The senior made four 3-pointers are he fought to keep the Eagles in the game.
Junior Kaleb Bryson added 15 points for Arlington.
“They’re a great team,” Johnson said. “They’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. They’re going to walk out of here with a trophy. Hopefully they get it done tomorrow and get third. That’d be a great accomplishment.”
Jackson remained undefeated this season, improving to 26-0. The Timberwolves hope to continue that trend against Curtis.
“Let’s face it, I think at this point if you’re 26-0 you’re going to want to finish it off,” Johnson said. “No question, huge challenge. Curtis is a great team. … They’re big. They’re athletic. They’re good.”
The Timberwolves sound determined to make sure that their first loss doesn’t come in their last game of the season.
“I know I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to soak it all in,” Todd said. “I’m going to make sure my team is ready to compete at the best of our ability.”
“The past 26 don’t matter now,” Kingma said. “It’s all about the next one. … We’re not done.”