Junior standout helps Timberwolves stun Knights | Boys basketball
Last updated 1/19/2018 at Noon
Jackson put the ball in Ben Olesen’s hands and the junior guard responded in a big way.
Olesen connected on the winning shot with five seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift Jackson to a 58-56 victory over Kamiak in a Wesco 4A boys basketball game Thursday, Jan. 11, at Kamiak High School.
Coming out of a timeout, Wolfpack coach Steve Johnson drew up a play with a screen in order to give Olesen a little room to work with against the Knights.
“It was supposed to be a drag screen. It didn’t really work,” Olesen said. “He just told me to drive, try to kick it out or take a shot. . I just made a shot and got it to go in.”
Johnson noted that the Timberwolves have lost some tough games to Kamiak. A last second putback basket by the Knights at the district tournament ended Jackson’s season last year.
“We were running out of gas at the end,” Johnson said. “But we stepped up and got a stop when we needed it. Then we made a great play with the winning basket and (I) give the kids a lot of credit for hanging in there.”
Olesen, who missed last year due to an ACL injury, said that the victory meant a lot.
“It’s a pretty big win, especially beating them on their home court,” Olesen said. “We had a team effort in this win. We moved the ball around and we really got the ball working around. We scored from a variety of areas.
The Timberwolves led 49-39 early in the fourth quarter but Kamiak rallied and cut the deficit to 55-54 on a dunk by senior Danny Sharpe with 1:30 left in the contest. The Knights later had an opportunity to take the lead, but the Wolfpack defense forced a Kamiak traveling violation and Olesen made one of two free throws with 18.7 seconds remaining to give the Wolfpack a 56-54 lead.
Sharpe tied the score at 56 by connecting on a pair of free throws with 11.3 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Olesen then drove to the hoop, pulled up and sank what turned out to be the winning basket with five seconds to go. After another timeout, Kamiak’s Carson Tuttle brought the ball up the court and missed a 3-point shot for the victory.
Jackson (6-2 in the league, 10-4 overall) trailed 31-25 at halftime but then outscored Kamiak (5-3, 7-7) 19-8 in the third quarter.
“We just kind of regrouped and told ourselves we needed to come out with energy and play with passion in the second half,” Olesen said.
The Timberwolves made 7 of 12 free throws in the quarter, including a technical foul that helped Jackson extend a 39-37 lead to 42-37 late in the period.
“I thought our shots started to fall,” Johnson said. “Christian (Liddell) got really hot. That obviously makes a big difference. He made some tough challenged shots.”
Liddell scored 9 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter. Olesen finished with 14 points and Kyle Bigovich, in his first varsity start, added 12 points.
“We are coming together nicely,” Johnson said. “We’ve got great senior leadership that shows up and practices hard. I think we’re getting better. We need to continue to keep on that upward arch because that’s what all teams do pushing forward.”
Kamiak’s Tuttle led all scorers with 29 points and Sharpe had 14 points.
While the game was played at Kamiak High School, Jackson’s student body section matched the home student section in numbers and may have been even louder. The support is appreciated by the Timberwolves.
“Our students are so awesome,” Johnson said. “Every game we have more or as many fans as the visiting team. Our fans are amazing. They come to every game on the road. It’s really quite remarkable.”