EVERETT — After the Jackson boys basketball team lost 10 seniors from last year’s team that placed fourth at the 4A state tournament, many thought Jackson’s dominance over the Wesco 4A would come to an end.
The Timberwolves won their fifth consecutive 4A District 1 championship on Thursday with a 64-32 win over Monroe.
“It feels great,” Jackson head coach Steve Johnson said. “I’m very proud of all the people that have worked really hard to get the program to this level — youth coaches, middle school coaches, people that have worked on our select program that have kind of had an expectation and a vision and past players that have been excited for these guys as they’ve approached playoff time. I’ve got a lot of messages from former parents (of players) and former players. It’s great. It’s humbling to be part of a program that can sustain itself like that.”
The Timberwolves are on to next weekend’s state regional round where they will play a loser-out game for a trip to the Tacoma Dome as one of the state’s top eight teams. Monroe will play Cascade on Saturday in a loser-out game for the district’s No. 2 seed to the state-regional round.
The championship game was never in doubt. Jackson led 13-4 at the end of the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime. Jackson’s offense was clicking, but its defense was even better.
“We came out fiery and aggressive on the defensive end,” Jackson junior guard Sam Saufferer said. “We didn’t want to give up any shots at all. We just wanted to come out and play our game. The last couple of times we didn’t play our best against them and we just wanted to come out and really show them what were about. “We’re about team ball and getting the win.”
Saufferer paced the Timberwolves’ offense throughout the game, finishing with 21 points and making three 3-pointers. For much of the game, Saufferer had more points than the entire Monroe team.
“I had a pretty good game, but it all goes to the team,” Saufferer said. “My teammates got me open and they got me in the right positions to score.”
Saufferer’s offensive performance stood out, but Johnson was just as pleased with his effort on the other end of the floor.
“He was good on defense, too,” Johnson said. “He played both ends of the floor and he guarded well. He played (Rhen Shore) a lot of the time, who is one of their best players in my opinion. I think he had a nice game offensively and defensively.”
Jackson led by as many as 41 in the second half which created a running clock situation for the final few minutes of the game.
Saufferer and his teammates were all smiles as they celebrated Jackson’s most recent district championship.
“I’ve been a part of three district championships, but this one is definitely a really great feeling,” Saufferer said. “Being a big part of this team and doing it with my brothers that I’ve grown up with is just a moment I’ll always remember. It just feels so good.”
While Jackson is able to celebrate, Monroe must refocus and get ready for Saturday’s game against the Bruins.
“We’ve just got to have a short memory and remember that we’ve played well at times and we’ve had a good season,” Monroe head coach Tyson Horner said. “We’ve got to get back to what got us here, but that was a rough one.”
At Everett Community College
Monroe 4 3 10 15 —32
Jackson 13 11 22 18 —64
Monroe—Alex Johnson 6, Andrew Chartrand 0, Braymer Shuey 0, Tyler Koontz 0, John Montero 5, Rhen Shore 4, Tristan Witham 2, Alex Spahman 2, Colby Kyle 4, Isaiah Cole 3, Devin Sepich 6. Jackson—Frank Rossi 8, Dolan Tierney 6, Ian Willgress 0, Brian Brown 4, Markus Sullivan 0, Connor Marschall 2, Yegor Gorbenko 14, Ethan Hammond 2, Parker Manalo 2, Sam Saufferer 21, Colton Faddis 5. 3-point goals—Montero 1, Rossi 2, Saufferer 3. Records—Monroe 13-10, Jackson 17-5.