KENT – It was a back-and-forth battle the entire way for the Jackson boys basketball team against Federal Way.
Then the lucky mohawks kicked in.
Jason Todd hit a wide-open 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining and made the next four Jackson points at the free throw line to seal the Timberwolves 50-45 regionals win over Federal Way. With the win, Jackson clinches one of the final eight spots at next weekend’s state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
“We knew they’re a great team,” Todd said of Federal Way. “But we held our composure and good things happened.”
The Jackson team got mohawks the day of the District 1 championship game last Saturday, right before its 60-57 win over Snohomish. It was a team bonding exercise that appears to be paying dividends for the Timberwolves.
It was not sanctioned by Jackson head coach Steve Johnson.
“That’s something they did out of my supervision,” the coach said with a smile. “They’re a really unified group.”
The Timberwolves – and their mohawks – found themselves in a close, hard fought game the entire way. Jackson trailed by five at halftime, but cut the deficit to two going into the final quarter.
Then Todd took over.
Todd had 11 of his 26 points in the final quarter, including the last seven Jackson points, starting with his clutch 3-pointer as the shot clock approached two seconds remaining. Todd got the ball and looked up with nobody in front of him.
“I definitely wasn’t thinking three…but I got an open look,” Todd said.
After his big shot, he went down and grabbed a defensive rebound, his ninth of the game, and, three quick Federal Way fouls later, found himself at the free throw line.
“I don’t mind the ball in his hands,” Johnson said. “He made the play.”
Todd added two more free throws, and the Eagles hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the game’s final score.
At halftime Johnson reiterated Jackson’s goals for the game, increase rebounding and get the ball into the low post. He said his team wasn’t nervous about being down five points, because they’ve developed a habit of coming from behind.
“We’ve been behind three straight games,” Johnson said. “There was no panic. We’ve been behind a lot. It’s not something we want, or to be used to.”
Sam Brown scored 15 points, including a big 3-pointer for Jackson in its 16-9 fourth quarter run. Dan Kingma added seven points and Andrew Dodd, who became a rebounding force in the fourth quarter with five boards, added the Timberwolves’ other two points.
“Sam Brown was just absolutely huge,” Johnson said. He then went through nearly his entire roster and said almost the same thing for each Jackson player.
Federal Way got off to a lightning fast start thanks to the 18 points of sophomore Brayon Blake. Blake had 10 points in the first half, including a dunk that got the Eagles’ fans and student section excited. In the fourth quarter, Blake was fouled going for another dunk, but still got the ball to go in and added a free throw at the line.
“They’re such an athletic team,” Johnson said.
In the fourth quarter Jackson adapted to Federal Way’s defense, which switched on screens. The Timberwolves also focused on rebounding, and finally were able to pull away in the game’s final minute.
After the game the Jackson sophomore said he simply wasn’t ready to be done playing basketball this season.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Todd said. “I didn’t want this to be my last half of the year.”
The Todds have been a fixture at the state tournament in recent years. In 2010, Ryan Todd, Jason’s older brother, went to Tacoma as a senior, helping the Timberwolves to finish second. As a freshman last season, Jason started for Jackson in the state tournament.
“I’ve been telling everyone who will listen to me he’s one of the best players in the state of Washington,” Johnson said. “This guy is a basketball player.”
Despite the success of Todd, his team and their mohawks, Johnson doesn’t think he’ll be shaving his head anytime soon.
“No,” Johnson said as he shook his full head of hair. “I’m gonna stick with what’s working.”
At Kent Meridian High School
Federal Way–Tucker 6, Montoya 3, Dl. Tucker 8, Anderson 8, Blake 18, Goosby-Fields 2, V. Daniels 0, Post 0. Jackson–Kingma 7, Brown 15, A. Graff 0, Dodd 2, Todd 26, Zehr 0, K. Graff 0, T. Waite 0. 3-point goals–Montoya 1, Kingma 1, Brown 1, Todd 2. Records–Federal Way 16-9 overall. Jackson 19-5.