MILL CREEK — Sylas Williams had yet another big game.
Drilon Veliu, Henry Armstrong and Bradley Tharp once again provided strong complementary performances.
And the Jackson High School boys basketball team continued its impressive start to the season by racing past another opponent.
Williams and the Timberwolves closed the non-league portion of their schedule in style, cruising to a 76-57 win over previously unbeaten Woodinville on Wednesday night with another balanced and high-scoring showing.
“We came out and played really well and played very unselfishly,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “That’s the main thing I’m proud of, and it’s nice to see.”
With their latest triumph, the Timberwolves (9-1) enter Wesco 4A play next week with plenty of momentum from a success-filled non-league slate.
Jackson has averaged 76.2 points per game this winter with its fast-paced attack, while outscoring opponents by 13.8 points per contest.
The Timberwolves’ resume includes a pair of hard-fought victories in last month’s Curtis Winter Classic, with a one-point win over defending 2A state champion North Kitsap and a four-point win over another top 2A team in Port Angeles.
Jackson’s 19-point rout of Woodinville was another quality victory, even with the Falcons (5-1) appearing a bit rusty while playing their first game in 22 days.
And even in their lone loss last month, the Timberwolves made a statement. They took a talented Curtis team to the wire, falling on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to a squad that’s expected to be among the best in 4A.
“We’ve done some good things in the non-league,” Johnson said. “We’ve played some good teams. We’ve beaten some good teams. But you know, starting with league play, it’s 0-0.”
Williams, a talented 6-foot-6 junior, has been a double-double machine this season. And he continued to stuff the stat sheet Wednesday, scoring 10 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 19. For the year, he’s averaging nearly 24 points and 14 rebounds per contest.
“He can score in different ways,” Johnson said. “He can score in the mid-range game. He hit a 3 tonight. Offensive rebounding. Transition. So if you can score in multiple ways and you have teammates that are willing to get you the ball in these various places, you can see what happens. … He’s definitely having a great year.”
But it’s been far from a one-man show.
Veliu, a senior guard, has averaged nearly 16 points per game. Tharp, a senior forward, has provided 11 points and six rebounds per contest. Armstrong, a senior wing, has added nine points and more than three assists per game.
And on Wednesday, that senior trio had another big night. Veliu and Armstrong each scored 17 points, while Tharp added 12.
“We’ve had lots of guys in double figures,” Johnson said. “I think unselfishness and consistency really have been the main two things that have led to a successful non-league season. … We’ve been pretty consistent across the board collectively and individually.”
The other constant for the Timberwolves? They love to run.
Jackson has thrived while pushing the tempo and getting out in transition. And that was the case again Wednesday, with the Timberwolves rattling off several big runs that came predominantly from fastbreak points.
Their fast pace and ability to excel in the open court are big reasons why they’ve lit up scoreboards this winter. Jackson has topped 70 points eight times and 80 points three times, including a 96-point output against Cascade.
“We have pretty good depth (and) pretty good team speed,” Johnson said. “We definitely try to push the tempo. … (Our) first game of the year was a real low-scoring game. And pretty much every game since then, we’ve been able to get untracked and get out and push the ball.”
In the first quarter, the Timberwolves rattled off 12-0 run in less than two minutes to take an early 18-7 lead.
Woodinville trimmed the margin to 26-25 midway through the second quarter, but Jackson closed the half with a 13-4 surge to take a 39-29 advantage into the break.
Early in the third quarter, the Timberwolves distanced themselves with a quick 11-0 explosion. Armstrong opened the run with a nice drive to the hoop and a corner 3-pointer. Veliu followed with a crafty reverse layup. Armstrong then added back-to-back transition layups off assists to stretch Jackson’s lead to 50-31 just 2 1/2 minutes into the second half.
The Timberwolves cruised the rest of the way, stretching the margin to as many as 22 points.
“I think we had pretty good defense, which led to good transition points,” Williams said.
Will Ruff scored 17 points for Woodinville, which hadn’t played since Dec. 14.
“They’ve had a big layoff,” Johnson said. “I think they practiced like two or three times in the last three weeks. … We certainly had some things working for us in terms of the timing of the game and kind of what they’re dealing with.
“But that being said, they are a good team, and we came out and played really well.”
Next up for Jackson is its Wesco 4A opener against Lake Stevens next Monday. The new five-team Wesco 4A is expected to be highly competitive and well-matched. And with teams playing just eight league games apiece, every game figures to be important.
“Our season is kind of weird in (Wesco) 4A with so few league games,” Johnson said. “Now you wipe the slate clean in some respects and you kind of have a real quick eight-game season. So we’ve gotta keep working and keep continuously improving.”