KENT — Jackson senior post Kristin Stoffel sported a new look Saturday night.
Some on The Herald’s live blog said it made her look like NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. She certainly played a bit like him, scoring a team-high 13 points in the Timberwolves’ 50-37 victory over Kentwood during a state regional game at Kent Meridian High School.
Stoffel also grabbed five rebounds, stole the ball twice, blocked a shot and made an assist.
“If you had to have a foundation player, Kristin is that player you want,” Jackson head coach Jeannie Boyer said after the game.
Stoffel wore the goggles Saturday out of necessity, not choice.
Usually she wears contact lenses, but an eye condition called Keratitis prevented her from doing that. If she wears contacts while her eye is healing it could cause permanent damage, she said. And without any correction, her vision is “just really bad,” Stoffel added.
Stoffel had to adjust quickly to her new goggles, which she debuted in practice.
“It was different at first,” she said, showing her new eyewear off. “But I played with them in practice last week.”
Jackson’s Kelli Kingma also had sharp eyes on the floor, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and four steals. She had two 3-pointers in the first quarter that sparked the Timberwolves’ offense early. Jackson outscored Kentwood 12-3 in the second quarter to take a 26-13 advantage into halftime.
Both teams had scoring runs in the third quarter but Stoffel scored seven of her points to help Jackson hold off the Conquerors. By the fourth quarter the game was pretty much decided.
“Honestly it’s a big sigh of relief,” Boyer said. “The kids worked so hard all season.”
Kentwood, which averages over 50 points per game, struggled from the field early on, making only one field goal in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Alycea DeLong led the Conquerors with a game-high 15 points, and also grabbed five rebounds.
“I definitely think our kids played really hard defense,” Boyer said.
The win came right after a 72-56 Lake Stevens loss to Skyview Saturday afternoon. With Stanwood losing to Federal Way, Jackson became the last Wesco 4A girls team standing in the playoffs. Boyer still thinks that, with three teams consistently ranked in the Associated Press’ top 10, the Wesco conference has shown Washington what it can do.
“Regardless of what happened with those teams (Stanwood and Lake Stevens), I still think we have one of the best conferences in the state,” Boyer said.
The Timberwolves, who are ranked No. 6 in 4A, were coming off a loss to the Vikings last Saturday in the district tournament. Jackson showed no ill effects from the game, and Stoffel said that rather than be down about the loss, the Timberwolves used it to propel themselves forward.
“It definitely motivated us,” Stoffel said. “It’s win or your out.”
Jackson advances to the final group of eight teams, who will all learn their next opponents today when a draw is done at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s office. It’s the first time the Timberwolves have been to the state tournament since 2009 when they lost their first — and only — two games.
Stoffel, a freshman at the time, was a starter on that team.
“It was very important to get back (to state),” Stoffel said. “…It feels amazing. It’s great to get back with my teammates.”
Boyer thinks her squad is ready for Jackson’s first game at the Tacoma Dome in three years.
“I think the fact that we were able to do this (win against Kentwood) — going to the Dome can’t be any scarier,” Boyer said. “Our team’s fearless. We just want to play our next opponent.”
At Kent-Meridian H.S.
Jackson—K. Kingma 12, Rawlins 0, Anderson 5, Lopez-Flores 0, B. Kingma 6, Hagans 4, M. Johnson 0, A. Johnson 6, Stoffel 13, Gjertsen 4. Kentwood—Kramer 3, Toeaina 9, Rankin 2, Key 0, DeLong 15, Ashley 4, Johnson 3, Berrysmith 2. 3-point goals—K. Kingma 2, B. Kingma 2, Kramer 1. Records—Jackson 19-4 overall. Kentwood 21-5.