EVERETT — When it came to matchups against perrenial Wesco 4A boys basketball power Jackson, the last decade wasn’t particulalry kind to Mariner.
In fact, the Marauders didn’t beat the Timberwolves a single time from 2010-19.
Mariner made sure that streak wasn’t going to continue in 2020 on Friday night.
The Maruaders put the clamps on defensively in the second quarter, took advantage of their free-throw attempts and looks from inside the paint and knocked off perrenial league power Jackson 68-52 in a pivotal matchup early in the conference schedule for a pair of potential conference-title contenders at Mariner High School.
“It’s really big to help us out record wise,” Mariner sophomore Naser Motley said. “We just love to end their streak because they were talking mess already. So we just loved to end that and come out and compete.”
The win was the Marauders’ (8-1, 3-0 Wesco 4A) first over the Timberwolves (6-3, 2-1) since 2009, ending a streak that dated back to coach Tevin Dillon’s senior season at Mariner.
“As far as what it means as a whole, it doesn’t really mean to much to us,” Dillon said. “It’s been a long time, but you know it takes a long time to build. And these guys have put a lot of work in. It’s finally showing. It feels good to beat a good program.”
Jackson took the upper hand early and raced out to a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter and ended the period with an 18-10 advantage. Senior Jaylen Searles led the way with seven points and three boards in the first.
The Marauders struck back midway through the second behind their stingy pressure defense. After walking down the Timberwolves’ eight-point lead to start the period, freshman Jalin Johnson sprinted down the court on a fast break and found junior Henry Avra near the bucket to tie the game at 25. Then, the Marauders turned back-to-back turnovers into five straight points from sophomore Dakota Joseph before Avra deliverd another two-point bucket to give Mariner its biggest lead of the half at 32-25 with just under three minutes remaining. But Jackson struck back with a quick 5-0 run of its own to end the half down 32-30 on a thunderous dunk from Searles and a buzzer-beating triple from junior Carter Korab.
Sealres opened the third with an eight-point offensive outburst to put Jackson up 38-36, but the Marauders answered back with six straight points, capped by a hook shot in the lane by Avra, to take a 42-38 lead. Mariner pushed its lead to 51-40 at the end of third as the Timberwolves struggled offensively outside of Searles, who scored all 10 of his team’s points in the frame.
“We were taking control on offense and getting to the rim, being more confident,” Dillon said of his team’s push to close the third. “Defensively, we were putting more pressure (on them), following the game plan.”
Korab finally ended Jackson’s cold streak by getting the team its first bucket from somebody other than Searles early in the fourth. But Jackson suffered a major blow when senior point guard Jesse Hoiby fouled out with 5:14 remaining, and the Timerwovles trailed by double digits the rest of the way.
“I knew that this would be a tough game,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “I knew that they had a good team, a particularly good defensive team. They played very physical. They played very aggresive. Their coach has done a good job. They’re well-coached. … I guess what’s kind of surprsing is we had that lead in the third quarter and kind of started to look like we were playing the way we wanted to play to start the half. But we had a real tough time where they kind of punched us back … and we didn’t respond.”
Mariner sank 18 of 23 free-throw attempts on the game, including 8-of-11 in the fourth quarter.
“It was huge,” Dillon said of his team’s free-throw shooting. “I was talking to my assistant and at practice we were spending a lot of time on free throws, and I was like, ‘Man, we’re wasting a lot of time in practice on this. I sure hope this pays off.’ And during the game when we kept hitting the free throws, I was like, ‘Man, I’m sure happy we were practicing those free throws.’”
Avra finished with 23 points and seven rebounds, Motley added 14 points and Tony MacArthur had nine points and 10 boards.
Searles finished with a game-high 27 points and Korab chipped in 15 for Jackson.
“I’m definitely sure that we’re a team to look out for,” Motley said. “(This win) sends a message to the whole league.”