Wounded warrior almost leads Timberwolves to title

TACOMA — After returning from injury in Saturday night’s 4A boys state championship game and nearly leading his team on a comeback that would have resulted in an undefeated season and the title, there is no reason to doubt the toughness of Jackson’s Jason Todd.

But there was no Willis Reed-type ending for the Timberwolves on Saturday. Curtis held off a furious Jackson rally for a 60-56 win in the game that ended after midnight.

Todd, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, went down with an ankle injury midway through the third quarter. He got his ankle taped and returned to the game a few minutes later.

Down by 10, his return sparked the Timberwolves, who cut the deficit to nine at the end of the third quarter with a Dan Kingma 3-pointer.

Todd was hurt, but just how serious was the injury was unclear until after the game. Todd was helped out of the locker room in obvious pain and his ankle was severely swollen.

“He definitely wasn’t 100 percent, I will tell you that,” Jackson head coach Steve Johnson said. “He was definitely hurt. He’s in a lot of pain right now. He was hurt. How hurt? I don’t know if I can put a number on it at 12:30 at night, but he was hurt.”

The Timberwolves continued to rally in the fourth quarter behind Todd and Kingma. Jackson was able to cut the deficit to one, but could never get over the hump.

“He’s a warrior in every sense of the word,” Johnson said. “Always has been, always will be. I’m tremendously proud of him.”

While it was clear that Todd wasn’t even close to 100 percent, there was no doubt the Timberwolves needed him. Other players like Brian Zehr, who didn’t miss a shot from the field, and Kingma, who hit two big 3s in the second half, were key in the comeback.

But they couldn’t have done it without their leader.

Johnson said after the game that he wished his star would have been at full strength.

“I wish Jason hadn’t been hobbling around,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to make excuses or take anything away from Curtis. They did a great job and they are deserving champions.”

Todd finished the game with 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.

Just how heroic Todd’s return was is up for debate. But there is no doubt it caught the eye of everyone in the Tacoma Dome, but specifically his coach.

“I thought it was incredibly valiant,” Johnson said. “He was not himself. He just gutted it out, having to guard quick athletic guys. They kind of knew he was hurt. They went at him a couple of times. That’s the way it goes. It would have been a much better story from our perspective had we pulled off the win, but I can’t question anything that kid does in terms of effort and bringing it all the time.”

It seemed it was fitting that Todd earned tournament MVP honors. Even on a bad ankle, there was no denying Todd was the most valuable player on the floor.

“He’s one of the best defenders, one of the best scorers and he is a playmaker,” Johnson said. “He does it all. Even hobbling around the last third of the game, he kept us in it. Tournament MVP I think is well-deserved.”

After the game Johnson addressed Todd in a private moment. Johnson wouldn’t go into great detail as to what he told his wounded warrior, but he did share a bit of the conversation.

“Let’s just say that Jason takes a lot of pressure on himself and takes things really personally,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to make it extremely clear that he should never, ever, ever feel that he let anyone down, especially me. Because he has never let me down.”

Todd almost delivered a state championship on a bad ankle. The Timberwolves return the majority of their team next season, including Todd, Kingma and Zehr.

With the motivation of a bitter defeat to Curtis, if Todd returns to the state championship game at full strength next season, it’s worth thinking about what he can accomplish.

Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at alommers@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Sports

The Silvertips' Koen Macinnes stops a shot during a game against the Blazers on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Kristin Ostrowski / Everett Silvertips)
Tips trade netminder, add 11 players through drafts

Everett sent Koen MacInnes to Regina for picks. Forward Julien Maze headlines the draft haul.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep results for Thursday, May 19

Postseason prep results for Thursday, May 19: (Note for coaches/Scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Snohomish's Evalyn Messina holds the championship trophy Thursday evening at Phil Johnson Ball Field in Everett, Washington on May 19, 2022. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 14-7 to claim the NW District 1 3A Championship title. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Another milestone: Cascade softball rolls past Snohomish for district crown

The Bruins continue their breakthrough season and blast 7 homers to beat the Panthers 14-7 in the 3A District 1 title game.

Boston Red Sox's Trevor Story is congratulated after his second two-run home run of the night, during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Story hits 3 homers, Red Sox power past M’s

Seattle’s pitchers struggle in a 12-6 loss at Fenway Park.

Everett
Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Skyline’s Ryan Grace is swarmed by teammates after striking out a batter to complete a 10-inning complete game win against Jackson Wednesday, May 18, 2022, during a Class 4A matchup at the Phil Johnson Ballfields in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Jackson softball falls to Skyline in 10-inning bi-district marathon

The T-wolves lose a 3-2 extra-inning heartbreaker in the 4A District 1/2 semis, but still have 2 more chances to reach state.

Bonney Lake's James O'Callaghan stands dejected as Edmonds-Woodway's Victor Ibarra, far right, celebrates Edgar Cabrera’s goal in the second half Tuesday evening at Edmonds-Woodway High School in Edmonds, Washington on May 17, 2022. The Warriors won 3-1. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Edmonds-Woodway advances to state soccer round of 16

Forced into a 3A state play-in game, the Warriors put on a clinic in a 3-1 win over Bonney Lake.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep results for Wednesday, May 18

Prep results for Wednesday, May 18: (Note for coaches/Scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Seattle Mariners' Ty France hits a single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. (Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP)
France, Gonzales leads Mariners past Blue Jays

Seattle salvages the series with a 5-1 win.

Most Read