Mariner stuns Jackson

  • Paul J Creelman<br>For the Enterprise
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:29am

Hopefully, Jackson boys basketball fans have their barns insured against fire, because the Timberwolves have had their share of barnburners lately.

The Timberwolves have a tendency to get off to slow starts and then build momentum as the game progresses, according to coach Steve Johnson.

Take, for instance, last week’s Western Conference 4A South Division game against Mariner. Jackson trailed Mariner 50-25 with five minutes left in the third quarter and then launched into a 30-5 run that put it 1.3 seconds away from tying the score and heading into overtime.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans, and a Jackson foul sent Mariner to the line, where they picked up one point to win the game 56-55.

Johnson, not wanting to point the finger, accepted the loss with dignity.

“Gosh, we had the chance to pull off an amazing comeback,” he said. “I liked our chances in overtime because there was momentum in our favor.”

Johnson said that luckily, the players tend to rebound from such a defeat faster than the coaches do.

“They were a little down, obviously,” he said. “But we had a good practice and talked about our goals for the season and how they’re still intact.

“From that conversation on, they seemed on the way to bouncing back.”

The goal heading into the New Year was to win two of the first three games coming back from the winter break. The Timberwolves did that, upending Mountlake Terrace and Everett.

A victory would have resulted in a first-place tie with the Marauders.

“You win two games in a row against two good teams and suddenly it becomes a big game,” Johnson said. “We weren’t ready for the big game environment. We came out flat, and dug a hole.

“We dug deeper and deeper, and then we almost dug our way out of it.”

One of the problems for Jackson is the consistency of play, according to Johnson.

“We played the three best teams in the league and won two out of three,” the coach said. “And we almost beat the other one.

“We know we can play well, the problem is doing it consistently … we needed to do a better job offensively. And we didn’t handle their aggression defensively.”

Johnson said he is used to having two or three players in double digits when it comes to scoring.

This time, Chris Keller was the lone player, with 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

“(Mariner) played good defense, particularly in the first half,” Johnson said. “They shut down Keller in the first half.”

Johnson hesitated to point to any of the other players as key components.

“They all played courageously to come back from such a heavy deficit,” Johnson said.

With the realization that Jackson may also be one of the teams to beat in the league, consistency becomes crucial.

Mercilessly, the schedule presses on, with games on Tuesday and Friday.

“You have to move on and play well,” Johnson said. “It sounds cliché-ish, but it’s what sports teaches you, how to deal with adversity.”

When asked what sparked the turnaround with five minutes left in the third quarter, Johnson said he and the players had theories, but no answers.

“If I had the answer to that, I’d copyright the answer and make a million bucks,” he said.

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