TACOMA — The plan was simple. Down by one point, with five seconds to play, the Jackson girls basketball team was going to let its fastest player take the ball down the court and see what happened.
Kristin Stoffel had the ball, Hayley Gjertsen set the screen and Sierra Anderson took the pass, ran the length of the court and put up a driving layup just before the buzzer sounded. Her shot fell through the hoop as the red light lit up behind the basket to give the Timberwolves a 49-48 win over Woodinville and fourth place in the 4A state tournament.
“That was insane,” said Jackson head coach Jeannie Boyer with the fourth-place trophy in hand. “She’s the fastest kid on our team with the ball in her hands.”
Anderson was immediately met with hugs from her teammates as the Timberwolves stormed the court. After the celebration Anderson sat in a chair on the sideline as everyone came up to congratulate her.
“Holy crap, did that really just happen?” Anderson said.
Anderson said once she got the ball she just started running. The next thing she knew, the Tacoma Dome erupted in cheers.
Anderson, who finished with six points, said her task on the final play was to “go. Just go, Then I just heard everybody yelling.”
Anderson’s game-winning basket gave the Jackson girls its best ever finish at state. The Timberwolves previous best was eighth in 2007.
“To get fourth in the state feels incredible,” Stoffel said. “We don’t even know what to do with ourselves right now.”
To win the fourth/sixth place game, Jackson had to battle back from a 15-point deficit. Sophomore Kelli Kingma had 21 points, including a 3-pointer to get Jackson to within one point with 41 seconds to play.
“Kelli’s incredible,” Boyer said. “She’s willing to carry the weight on her shoulders as a sophomore.”
“Thank God for Kelli,” Anderson said.
After her older sister made the shot, Brooke Kingma made a steal. However, Jackson’s shot was blocked out of bounds, last touched by the shooter.
The Timberwolves immediately fouled, sending Woodinville’s Mackenzie Campbell to the free-throw line with eight seconds remaining for a one-and-one. Campbell missed her first shot Woodinville’s Ali Forde grabbed her 13th rebound of the game. Forde was immediately swarmed by Jackson players, who grabbed the ball and the referees called a jump ball, with the possession arrow pointing to Jackson.
Jackson called a timeout and Boyer drew up the game-winning play.
“It was very loud,” Kelli Kingma said. “But we were all so focused.”
Stoffel inbounded the ball to Anderson and Boyer stood on the sidelines and watched her guard run, as Kingma ran right behind her in case she wanted to kick the ball out for a pass.
“Honestly, I was just saying, ‘keep going! Keep going!’” Boyer said of the final five seconds. “(After the ball went in) I think I did a double fist pump or something that probably looked ridiculous.”
Stoffel scored four of her 12 points in the final quarter when Jackson outscored Woodinville 15-5.
There was only one lead change of the game, and it came as the contest ended.
“They just never gave up,” Boyer said. “My kids hate losing. They had a chance to go out and win their last game. The kids gave every single thing they had.”
The Timberwolves found themselves trailing most of the way thanks to Forde’s 16 points. Campbell had 13 points and Deidra Miller added six in the first quarter on a couple of 3-pointers.
“Woodinville is a fantastic team,” Boyer said. “They literally pushed us to the brink.”
In the hallway after the game, Anderson ran over and gave Forde a hug as she congratulated her on a well-played game. Forde, obviously disappointed with the final result, nodded her head as she embraced Anderson.
“Nice finish,” she said.
Kingma said the younger players wanted to win for their four seniors, including Stoffel and Gjertsen who had the unenviable task of guarding Forde. Mary Johnson and Jessie Murphy were the other two seniors playing their final game for Jackson.
“I could not be happier right now,” Kingma said. “We told the seniors: ‘We’re not going to let you go out on a loss.’
“… We wanted to win. Whatever happened, losing was not an option today.”
At the Tacoma Dome
Jackson—K. Kingma 21, Rawlins 0, Anderson 6, Lopez-Flores 0, B. Kingma 3, Hagans 0, M. Johnson 0, A. Johnson 1, Stoffel 12, Gjertsen 6. Woodinville—Forde 16, Skalabrin 0, McLeod 6, Miller 6, Hamilton 0, McElwee 3, Frost 4, Campbell 13. 3-point goals—K. Kingma 2, B. Kingma 1, McLeod 1, Miller 2, McElwee 1, Campbell 1. Records—Jackson 22-5 overall. Woodinville 23-4.
David Krueger covers prep sports for The Herald. Read his live blogs at www.heraldnet.com/prepzone, follow him on twitter @Krueger_David and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.