TACOMA — It looked like the Jackson Timberwolves boys basketball team just might have one more run in them.
Down by 19 points, Jackson came roaring back in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, closing the deficit to single digits. But in the end, the Timberwolves couldn’t overcome Garfield’s strong shooting, and fell to the Bulldogs 60-47 in a 4A state consolation game Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss ended Jackson’s season.
“We battled,” said Timberwolves’ head coach Steve Johnson. “I’m so proud of how we cut (the deficit) down from 19 to eight.”
With 4 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game, Jason Todd made a 3-pointer to cap a 13-2 Jackson run midway through the fourth quarter. But then two Garfield free throws, followed by a layup and another Bulldogs score, put the game out of reach.
“I thought we had a shot,” Johnson said. “We kept talking about staying close. … We made it interesting. We didn’t just go away. That’s indicative of these kids.”
Garfield played an aggressive, full-court trap defense all game long. That, coupled with some offensive struggles for Jackson, had the Timberwolves trailing early. Aside from two early ties, Garfield led the whole way.
Jackson finished the game with a shooting percentage of 34.6 (18 of 52).
“We shot terrible,” Johnson said. “You gotta give them some credit for that.”
Todd finished with a game-high 29 points, but no other Jackson player scored more than eight. Sophomore Brian Zehr accounted for eight points, Sam Brown scored six and Andrew Dodd added four points to round out the scoring for the Timberwolves.
Johnson wasn’t remotely surprised when he reflected on Todd’s stat line, which also included a game-high 15 rebounds.
“What else is new?” Johnson said. “The guy seems to put up big numbers every game.”
Todd, who signed autographs for two kids once he was done shaking the Garfield players’ hands, was understandably emotional after the game. He praised his team, especially the Jackson seniors.
“I’m proud of my teammates,” the sophomore said. “I love them to death. I feel terrible for the seniors.”
Junior wing Tucker Haymond led Garfield with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Pierre Wright (16 points) and Trevaunte’ Williams (12) also helped the Bulldogs build their lead.
“They’re athletic,” Johnson said. “Haymond’s a good player. They have several guys that can put the ball on the floor and hurt you.”
The Jackson coach said that there may have been a bit of an emotional hangover after the Timberwolves’ 66-65 overtime loss the night before to Union. The game featured a controversial foul called on what appeared to be offensive charging with 10 seconds to go in regulation. The foul led to two Titans free throws that tied the game at 60 and forced the overtime period.
“We were coming off a disappointing loss and feeling we were robbed, quite frankly,” Johnson said. “It was tough.
“… A couple breaks go our way and we’re in the state semifinals.”
Instead the Timberwolves ended up in the consolation bracket with Garfield, which also lost by one point in its opening game of the state tournament to Central Valley.
All season the team carried a chip on its shoulder, Johnson said, being picked to finish third in Wesco South in The Herald’s preseason coaches’ poll after losing four seniors from its 2010-2011 squad.
“Coaches picked us to finish third in our division and we ended up winning the district tournament and going to state,” Johnson said. “I think it was a pretty good season.”
“Me, I’m very proud and blessed to be a part of it,” Todd said.
The Timberwolves again graduate four seniors — Brown, Dodd, Andrew Graff and Trevor Waite — but return a young squad that now boasts state experience. Point guard Dan Kingma will be a junior, as will Todd.
“We certainly have some talent returning,” Johnson said.
Todd stopped short of declaring the Timberwolves would return to state next year, but he did make one promise to Jackson fans about next season.
“For me personally, I think our goal should be win Wesco South, work toward a district championship and work toward a state berth,” Todd said. “We’re going to work hard in the offseason. I personally guarantee that.”
At the Tacoma Dome
Jackson—Dineen 0, Kingma 0, Brown 6, A. Graff 0, Bates 0, Willgress 0, Dodd 4, Todd 29, Zehr 8, K. Graff 0, R. Waite 0, T. Waite 0. Garfield—Haymond 19, Wright 16, McGruder 2, Hopper 1, Greer 7, Hall 3, Gorecki 0, Buchanan 0, Baker 0, Ido 0, Byrdwell 0, Williams 12. 3-point goals—Brown 1, Todd 1, Greer 1. Records—Jackson 19-7 overall. Garfield 20-6.