MILL CREEK — For much of the season, Arlington has had trouble playing consistently for 32 minutes.
The Eagles have the talent to get away with it on most nights, which is why they brought a 13-1 record and the best 4A Wesco North mark into Friday night’s boys basketball game with South division power Jackson.
The Eagles put together 16 very good minutes in the second half against the unbeaten Timberwolves. However, it was the first 16 minutes that buried Arlington’s and sealed its fate in a 64-50 loss.
Dan Kingma, Jason Todd and Brian Zehr combined to score 17 of Jackson’s 19 first-quarter points and helped the Timberwolves to a commanding 19-6 lead going into the second quarter.
Jackson’s defense gave the Eagles and their star forward Terry Dawn fits throughout the first half as the Timberwolves built a 33-15 lead at the break. Dawn scored four points in the half and shot just 2-for-10 from the field. In total, the Eagles shot a dismal 7-for-25 in the game’s first 16 minutes.
“We got tremendous effort, in particular from Connor Willgress,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “We just said he’s got to work for everything he can get. We are able to do some switching because we have several guys that are 6-4 or 6-5 that can move and are reasonably athletic and can keep up with him and be tall enough and long enough to challenge his shot.
“Mostly it was a great effort by Connor, but we also gave him a lot of help and made (Dawn) work for everything he got.”
The Eagles certainly weren’t helped by the fact that this was the second game of a back-to-back for them — they beat Edmonds-Woodway 64-47 on Thursday night — and the Timberwolves didn’t hesitate to take advantage early.
“We came out and played the Jackson jersey,” Brown said. “You know, they’re good. There is no question. I think as a coach I probably messed up a little bit. I talked to them about, ‘hey, are you as good as these guys,’ to kind of motivate them. And I don’t know if that worked. I think we kind of got a little of deer in the headlights a little bit. I’ll take responsibility for that. I didn’t make sure that we were ready to play.”
If the Eagles weren’t ready to play in the first half, Brown fixed the problem at halftime. The Eagles responded to their poor first half by opening the second half on a 7-0 run. Terry Dawn came alive in the third quarter scoring eight of his 14 points on the night and the Eagles slowly chipped away at the Jackson lead.
“To his credit, I knew we weren’t going to hold him to nothing,” Johnson said of Dawn. “I knew he was going to get shots and he’s going to score, but to hear that we held him to five or six below his average, you can’t ask for more than that.”
Even though the Eagles team that showed up in the second half was much different than the team that showed up at the beginning of the game, they still struggled to get Jackson’s lead below 10 points. Dawn shot 4-for-7 in the second half and the Eagles shot 11-for-19 as a team, but the closest Arlington ever got was within eight.
Arlington had got to within nine late in the third quarter, but the Timberwolves defense got a stop and Todd came knocked down a three-pointer with 33 seconds left in the quarter to extend the lead back to 12, which is where it stood entering the final quarter.
The Eagles fought back again in the fourth to cut the lead to eight with 2:10 remaining in the game, but a Kingma came through with another three late in the shock clock to extend the lead back to 11 and all but end the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback.
“Those were big,” Johnson said of the shots by Todd and Kingma. “It was down to nine and down to eight and those were both, I don’t want to say rally-killers, but kind of tilted things back in our favor.”
Todd led the way for Jackson, finishing with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Kingma added 18 points, including four 3s and Zehr scored 15. Todd also helped the Timberwolves put the game away by shooting 8-for-8 from the free-throw line including four late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles have made comeback victories in other games this season, including an 18-point turnaround over Lake Stevens, but Brown said you can’t expect to do that against a team like Jackson.
“You can’t do that to a good team like them,” he said. “You can’t spot them 18 points, they are too good and they proved it tonight.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At Jackson H.S.
Arlington — Kaleb Bryson 14, Terry Dawn 14, Gavin Smoke 2, Noah Jones 4, AJ Passalaqua 3, Bradey Brummel 9, Nate Lewis 4. Jackson — Kyle Graff 0, Dan Kingma 18, Jason Todd 24, Brian Zehr 15, Marcus Blake 0, Connor Willgress 4, Riley Waite 3. 3-point goals — Brummel 1, Dawn 1, Bryson 1, Passalaqua 1, Kingma 4, Todd 2. Records — Arlington 7-2 league, 13-2 overall; Jackson 9-0, 14-0.