RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — The Jackson boys basketball team got its holiday trip off to a great start.
With a game that tipped off at 9:30 p.m., Jackson took about a quarter to get going and its opponent, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.), wore down late as the Timberwolves won their MaxPreps Holiday Classic opener 53-44 at Rancho Mirage High School late Thursday night.
“I think we were a little bit stronger defensively (after the first quarter),” said Jackson head coach Steve Johnson. “We were able to turn some defense into offense. We were able to get a bit of a lead.”
Jackson found itself trailing 8-7 at the end of the first quarter before the Timberwolves got their offense going. Senior Jason Todd had 10 points in the second quarter and Dan Kingma followed that up with nine points of his own in the third as Jackson took a 40-34 lead into the fourth.
Todd closed out the game with five points in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 21 points for Jackson, which plays Columbia Christian (Portland, Ore.) today at 7 p.m. in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic quarterfinals.
The senior wing also grabbed 18 rebounds.
“He kind of asserted himself in the third quarter,” Johnson said
Harvard-Westlake, which defeated Catalina Foothills (Ariz.) 80-65 in overtime earlier in the day, tried to make a run in the fourth quarter. But with star Nick Medavoy in foul trouble and Alex Copeland out with an ankle injury, the Wolverines couldn’t overtake Jackson.
Medavoy was 5-of-5 from the field for Harvard-Westlake in the first quarter and finished with 12 points — all in the first half. Copeland was limited to two points before being injured in the third quarter.
The Wolverines’ previous game allowed Johnson a bit of an opportunity to scout the team from southern California.
“As much as you can develop a strategy based on one game,” Johnson said. “We knew point averages and watched them played on YouTube and watched them (Thursday). It was certainly an advantage playing the single game today while they played two. … I think it’s just getting used to playing and going against some pretty quick, athletic guys. There’s no substitute for game speed and game action.”
Kingma had 14 of his 17 points in the second half. The point guard had a contested left-handed layup with 1:26 to go in the game and added a free throw 20 seconds later to give Jackson a 50-41 lead and all but seal the win.
“We certainly didn’t play great tonight. It was kind of a struggle. We looked like a team that hadn’t played much,” said Johnson, pointing to the fact Jackson had played just two games to Harvard-Westlake’s nine coming into the game. “It’s nice to move into the winners’ bracket. I’m just glad we got enough going.”
Johnson was pleased with the Timberwolves’ rebounding effort. Jackson outrebounded Harvard-Westlake 36-21, thanks in large part to the 18 boards by Todd.
“That’s the thing that stood out,” Johnson said.
Harvard-Westlake plays De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) today at 7 p.m. in a consolation round game. Columbia Christian beat De La Salle 53-51 in overtime.
Jackson will face Columbia Christian less than 24 hours after its win over Harvard-Westlake. Johnson said the quick turnaround is just part of the deal.
“That’s kind of the nature of the beast, when you play in a tournament, whether it’s a Chirstmas tournament or a state tournament,” Johnson said. “It’s a great experience to learn how to be able to handle that situation.”
At Rancho Mirage H.S.
Jackson 7 15 18 13 — 53
Harvard Westlake 8 12 14 10 — 44
Jackson—Dan Kingma 17, Jason Todd 23, Brian Zehr 6, Marcus Blake 4, Holden Roberts 0, Connor Willgress 3, Dylan Mitchell, Sam Saufferer 0, Blake Ozuna 0, Riley Waite 0. (2 points not reported). Harvard Westlake—Spencer Perryman 2, Alex Copeland 2, Miles Williams 4, Bryan Polan 8, Sam Sachs 4, Chance Goring 0, Nick Medavoy 12, Mike Sheng 11. (1 point not reported). 3-point goals—Sheng 2, Polan 2, Kingma 2. Records—Jackson 3-0 overall. Harvard Westlake 5-5.