By David Krueger Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — It was supposed to be a battle for the ages. The best of the best. The No. 1 boys basketball team in the Wesco North versus No. 1 in the Wesco South.
Instead it turned into a rout that the South won handily, with Jackson defeating Lake Stevens 67-40 in a Wesco 4A crossover game Saturday night at Lake Stevens High School.
The result was a surprise even to the coaches.
“We did not expect that,” said Jackson head coach Steve Johnson. “We have a ton of respect for their team.”
Lake Stevens head coach Mark Hein was trying to figure it out after the game, and thought that perhaps an emotional 78-69 win over Cascade on Friday night had his players a little tired.
“We looked really, really flat,” Hein said. “It’s certainly not an excuse. To (the Timberwolves’) credit they shot a high percentage and executed well and we were on the other side of it.”
The game was competitive through the first quarter, with Jackson leading 13-11 after the first eight minutes. But the Timberwolves outscored Lake Stevens 23-5 in the second quarter, and were able to cruise the rest of the way.
Jackson sophomore guard/forward Jason Todd continued his impressive season, finishing the game with a double-double. He scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. The entire Lake Stevens team had 19 rebounds.
“Todd’s a really, really good player,” Hein said. “He played super.”
Six of Todd’s 20 points came in the second quarter and teammate Brian Zehr netted seven of his 11 points in the big run. The Timberwolves tightened up on defense as well, limiting the Vikings to two field goals in the second.
“I think it was a good win,” Todd said. “Lake Stevens is obviously a good team. We put forth our best effort and got a good win.”
With the game out of reach, the Timberwolves (9-2 league, 13-5 overall) continued to pound the ball down low, making sure to get all they possibly could out of their significant height advantage. Lake Stevens center Lorin Vandegrift, the tallest player on the Vikings team at 6-feet, 8-inches, was on the sidelines on crutches.
The next tallest Viking is 6-5 senior Brady Pahukoa, who found himself in foul trouble towards the end of the game.
“I think I can use my size to my advantage,” said the 6-5 Todd, one of seven Timberwolves players listed as six feet or taller. “Anything my team needs for us to win.”
Todd says that even when the Timberwolves had a big lead, there was still motivation for Jackson to continue to work hard. The score, he says, isn’t the most important part of the game.
“We don’t look at the score, we look at have we gotten better,” said Todd.
Utilizing its height down low, the Timberwolves were also able to pass the ball back out to guards for open shots when the Lake Stevens’ defenders bounced inside to help out on defense.
“We shoved it in to three different guys,” Thomas said. “… And they found open guys when they did kick it out.”
On the offensive side, Lake Stevens had just as much trouble. The Vikings (8-3, 12-5) scored a season-low 40 points, in part because of good defense by Jackson, but also because seemingly every Lake Stevens shot hit the basket, rolled around a few times and then decided it didn’t want to go in the hoop.
Even a couple layups rolled in and out of the basket.
“A lot of them had off nights, and I think that’s not normal,” Thomas said. “They’re so balanced. They’ll bounce back.”
The loss put a damper on the Vikings’ Senior Night. It was the last scheduled home game for Lake Stevens, and, following tradition, Hein made sure that all five Viking seniors were on the floor for the opening tipoff. Kevin Smith led the Lake Stevens seniors with nine points and four rebounds, and junior Devin Stoen led all Vikings scorers with 14 points while grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
“It’s not the way we wanted our senior night to go by any means,” Hein said. “We just have to flush it. Can’t dwell on it. We have to move on right away.”
As does Jackson, which has a game next week against Edmonds-Woodway, currently the second-best team in the South that will be desperate for a win to keep up with the Timberwolves.
“It’s a good win. … but we need to stay focused and keep getting better,” Johnson said.
Johnson also doesn’t think that his team has seen the last of the Vikings.
“(Saturday) was one of many big games to come,” the Jackson coach said. “I sincerely mean it. I see us playing them again down the road.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Jackson—Kingma 7, Brown 7, A. Graff 5, Willgress 2, Dodd 10, Todd 20, Zehr 11, K. Graff 3, R. Waite 0, T. Waite 2. Lake Stevens—Shandano 2, Smith 9, Stoen 14, Rahn 2, Tomson 5, Gasca 8, Sanoh 0, Pahukoa 0, Rothgeb 0. 3-point goals—Kingma 1, Brown 1, A. Graff 1, Todd 1, K. Graff 1, Smith 1, Stoen 1, Tomson 1. Records—Jackson 9-2 league, 13-5 overall. Lake Stevens 8-3, 12-5.