Todd fought through a severe ankle injury to lead Jackson to the brink of a massive comeback against Curtis in Saturday's 4A title game.
TACOMA — In the belly of the Tacoma Dome, in a long corridor beneath the bleachers, Jackson guard Jason Todd sat against a wall, slumped over.
Moments before, two people had carried him from Jackson’s locker room because he could no longer walk. His ankle, which gave out in the third quarter, swelled to the size of a tennis ball.
Now, as he held an ice pack to his ankle and tears streamed down his face, he waited for a wheelchair that would take him out of the Tacoma Dome after his team’s comeback fell just short in Saturday’s Class 4A state title game against No. 6 Curtis.
Todd had the ball in the final seconds with his team down three, but he couldn’t get off a shot as Curtis’ defense forced a turnover and sealed a 60-56 win just past midnight.
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“He sort of implied to me right after the game that he felt like he let me down,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “I don’t think ‘let me down’ and his mouth should ever meet.”
Todd, Jackson’s leading scorer, gave everything he had in the final game of the 2012-13 season, and no one could say differently. Not after Todd continued playing on an ankle that might be broken — he wasn’t sure Sunday night — and not after he helped spark Jackson’s comeback despite grimacing after every play.
Once, after he was fouled going to the basket, Todd got up biting his jersey, then walked to the free-throw line and knocked down two shots.
“Nothing’s guaranteed, and you never know if you’re going to get a chance to get back,” Todd said. “There was absolutely nothing that was going to take me out of that game.”
No. 2 Jackson entered Saturday looking to become the first 4A team to finish a season undefeated since Ferris did it in 2007 and again in 2008.
The Timberwolves trailed by 12 at halftime as Curtis’ defensive pressure caused them problems. Then, in the third quarter, Todd tripped on a player’s leg and rolled his ankle.
He left the game, had his ankle taped and hobbled back onto the court not long after.
“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever played against,” Curtis guard Dominic Robinson said. “I love Jason.”
Robinson led Curtis with 20 points, but the Vikings had to cling to their lead in the fourth quarter.
Curtis led by nine at the end of the third, the biggest deficit of the year for Jackson. The Timberwolves cut Curtis’ lead to one three times in the final eight minutes.
Todd scored four of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, and Dan Kingma had 10 straight points down the stretch. Kingma finished with 18 points and Brian Zehr added 15.
“We didn’t want to go out that way,” Todd said. “We wanted to make sure we went out on our terms, on the right note and that we gave it our all. I think we can look back in a couple of days and say we did that.”
The Timberwolves return six of their top seven players, including leading-scorers Todd, Kingma and Zehr. In the minds of many, Jackson is the early favorite to win it all next year.
But Todd and his teammates didn’t want to think about that Saturday.
“The guy is an absolute warrior,” Johnson said. “He gave everything he had, and I wish we could have picked it up a little more to send him out of here in a wheelchair with a state trophy.”