EVERETT — The performance put forth by Jackson’s Sam Saufferer during Saturday’s game with Kamiak will go down in the annals of great individual efforts in the history the 4A District 1 Tournament.
Unfortunately for Saufferer and the Timberwolves, his 46-point outburst wasn’t enough as Jackson saw its season end with a 70-68 loss to the Knights in a winner-to-regionals, loser-out game at Everett Community College.
“He’s the best player in the league hands down,” Kamiak head coach Cory West said of the 6-foot-1 Saufferer. “He’s a senior who doesn’t want his season to end, period, and it shows. He has heart. The whole team has heart.
“They outplayed us the second half,” West continued. “(If) they win that then they deserve to win. They played that second half like a team that’s not ready to be done, and I don’t feel like we did.”
Jackson (16-9) never could solve the Knights (17-6) in four tries this season. Kamiak will make its first regional appearance since the 2005 season when the event was still a 16-team, four-day tournament. It’s just the second time the team has made it to the round of 16.
“We’re making history for Kamiak basketball,” Kamiak senior Gavin Patrick said. “We’re just trying to ride the wave and go as far as we can.”
The Timberwolves trailed by as many as 16 in the second half and didn’t take their first lead until Saufferer drove uncontested for a layup with 1:05 to go for a 68-67 advantage.
Kamiak’s Carson Tuttle answered to reclaim the 69-68 lead. Following an empty Timberwolves possession, Jackson’s Brian Brown forced a jump ball on the defensive end that gave the Timberwolves the ball.
Saufferer was then fouled and hit the floor hard with 3.7 seconds to play. But he missed both free throws, and the Wolves were forced to foul. Kamiak made 1-of-2 at the other end, and Jackson’s last-second 3-point attempt didn’t fall.
“It was an incredible offensive performance by Sam,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “I just feel awful for the kid after all he did offensively, to miss two free throws with the chance to take the lead. He’s one of the best free throw shooters around. That’s not going to happen but once in a blue moon. That’s another unfortunate pill to swallow.”
The Timberwolves trailed 35-27 at the break, and following a 3-pointer by Trevor Gray and a technical foul on Johnson, they were down 45-29 with 5:27 to go in the third.
The technical seemed to galvanize the Timberwolves, who closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run to trail 51-49 through three.
“I do think for whatever reason from that point on we played very courageously,” Johnson said. “We rebounded, we got some guys off the bench that gave us some more defensively. We got a spark from some of those guys coming off the bench.”
Brown finished with 11 points for the Timberwolves. Patrick and Coleman Grayson each scored 15 for the Knights, and Tuttle chipped in 13.
At Everett Community College
Jackson 8 19 22 19 —68
Kamiak 20 15 16 19 —70
Jackson—Brian Brown 11, Parker Manalo 1, Ian Willgress 2, Brock Peterson 3, Jordan Brajcich 0, Connor Marschall 2, Hunter Johnson 0, Sam Saufferer 46, Islim Ouldtaki 3. Kamiak—Carson Tuttle 13, Christian Clausen 8, Trevor Gray 8, Coleman Grayson 15, Gavin Patrick 15, Nathan Shubert 4, Daniel Sharpe 7. Records—Jackson 16-9 overall. Kamiak 17-6.