A furious comeback bid by Capital Christian (Sacramento) fell short in the Invitational final of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic on Monday, as the Cougars lost to Jackson (Wash.) 54-45.
Jackson was in charge all the way, controlling the pace of the game and the ball, while Capital Christian couldn’t get even the simplest of layups to fall for three quarters.
The Timberwolves, from Mill Creek, Wash., took a 24-16 lead into halftime that seemed larger than the 8-point margin would suggest.
Jackson becomes the first non-California team to win the MaxPreps tournament, going back to its days as the Desert Heat Classic, which began in 2001.
The third period was more of the same, with Jackson outscoring Capital Christian 19-8.
The Cougars were generally sloppy with the ball, turning it over early and often, and were cold from the floor, making just 18 of 49 shots.
Jackson was led by senior guard Dan Kingma with 18 points, including four from outside the arc.
“He’s a great guard, he controls the tempo for us and scores,” Jackson head coach Steve Johnson said.
Kingma said he was excited to win a tournament as well-known as the MaxPreps tourney — now hosted at Rancho Mirage High School.
“It was nice to get a big-time win in a big-time location like this. That was a huge game right there, my boys came to play and we weren’t scared of them,” Kingma said. “We did what we needed to do and we got the win. It was awesome.”
But the Cougars suddenly awoke in the final quarter, outscoring the Timberwolves 21-11 in that period.
Capital Christian’s only consistent scorer, Tyler Jennings, who had 18, was at last joined by the rest of the team in the fourth quarter, exemplified by D.J. Wilson, who scored all of his nine points in that period.
“They made a heckuva run there; we forgot to play the fourth quarter there for a little bit, but we weathered the storm and made a few plays,” Johnson said. “To have the kids play so hard and so well and come away a winner in a tournament like this is pretty exciting. We’ll certainly wake up a little better tomorrow.”
Jason Todd was second in scoring for the Timberwolves with 11 points, followed by Connor Willgress with eight.
For the Cougars, Uchenna Iroegbu had 11 points, six of them coming in the final period.