TACOMA — When the dust settled from Thursday’s 4A boys state tournament quarterfinal between Jackson and Union, the final play could almost be seen as a metaphor for the game.
The Titans eluded the Timberwolves’ defense on the final play and escaped with a 66-65 overtime win.
Trailing by one point with just 6.7 seconds remaining, the Timberwolves desperately needed to foul to stay alive. The Titans were able to inbound the ball and before Jackson could get there to foul, the ball was passed to another player and Union ran out the clock.
Both teams came out early at a blistering pace, shooting the ball very well in the first quarter and playing to an 18-18 tie after the first period. But in the second and third quarters, though the game stayed close, Union created some separation, jumping out to a seven-point lead.
“I’m proud of the effort,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “Down seven or whatever, it kind of felt like we were always fighting uphill and didn’t really have a rhythm.
“That’s kind of (the Titans’) style and you have to give them credit for that. That’s how they play. They take you out of your rhythm with all the presses and traps and stuff. But we kept fighting and we kept hanging in there and we certainly had a chance to win.”
The Timberwolves had more than a chance. They held a 60-58 lead late in regulation when Union’s Tanner Nelson earned a trip to the free-throw line after Jackson was called for a block on the baseline with less than 10 seconds to. Nelson made both free throws and Jason Todd missed a jump shot in the final three seconds and the game went to overtime.
All season long, the Timberwolves have been able to rely on Todd for offense. He provided it on Thursday, but he also got a little extra help from senior Sam Brown. Brown led all scorers with 24 points, shooting 8-for-17 from the field and 6-for-12 from beyond the 3-point-line.
“Offensively, he’s a competitor,” Johnson said. “You know, baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona. He’s just an athlete out here playing hoops. He loves to compete on the bright lights and the big stage. He got after it.”
Todd finished the game with 22 points, doing most of his damage from the free-throw line. Todd connected on 14 of his 15 free throw attempts in the contest. He also grabbed 13 rebounds. After missing his first free throw of the game, Todd made his final 14 attempts.
“He’s just a warrior, would be the word I would use,” Johnson said of Todd. “He just absolutely competed. They were double teaming him, triple teaming him and he had to find other ways to scoreHe was huge from the free-throw line. He made clutch free throws. So what more can you say, the guy play incredible.”
Another guy who was clutch was Union’s Jordan Chatman, who finished the game with 20 points. But none were bigger than the 3-pointer he made with just under a minute remaining in the overtime session. The Timberwolves seemingly had control at 65-63 when Chatman pulled up for a 25-footer and drilled it with ease.
It proved to be the winning bucket.
“It was a deep shot, but he’s a Division 1 player and he should be able to hit that and he did,” Union head coach Maco Hamilton said. “That was clutch by him.”
Brown certainly has had his share of big-game experience in high school and after the game, he kept things in perspective.
“I’m really proud of the fact that despite everything that was going on we kept our composure and we kept fighting and we kept doing our thing,” Brown said. “Unfortunately things didn’t work out, but I mean, hey what can you do? It’s sports. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go your way.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Read his live blogs at www.heraldnet.com/prepzone, follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com. Tacoma Dome
Jackson—Kingma 6, Brown 24, A. Graff 3, Willgress 0, Dodd 3, Todd 22, Zehr 5, K. Graff 0, T. Waite 2. Union—Copp 7, Whalen 2, Ceaser 0, Cairns 0, Nelson 20, Chatman 20, Cowan 10, Humphrey-Butler 0, Rego 4, Merfeld 0. 3-point goals—Kingma 2, Brown 6, Dodd 1, Copp 1, Cairns 1, Chatman 4. Records—Jackson 19-6, Union 18-8.