Kentwood stops Jackson for title, 67-58 | 4A Boys Championship
Joshua Smith dominated inside and got lots of help from teammates as Kentwood beat Jackson 67-58 for the 4A boys championship.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TACOMA — Joshua Smith stood in the corner with his fingers pointed toward the top of the Tacoma Dome as teammate Tre Tyler sprinted toward him.
When Tyler jumped into the 6-foot-9 center's arms, Kentwood's mountain in the middle tumbled to the floor. The only player in the state who could take him down was his teammate, and only after the Conquerors won the championship.
"It's gone by real fast," Smith said. "I remember the first day of high school. When I was a ninth grader, walking in, just trying to make the varsity team. We just won the state championship; I don't even know how it feels."
For four days during the Class 4A boys state tournament, teams tried to slow down Smith. After a 67-58 victory over Jackson Saturday night, no team succeeded.
He beat back double teams. He scored with players tugging at his arms and jersey. He set up teammates for open jump shots and they knocked them down.
For the first time since his freshman year, the UCLA-bound Smith played in the state tournament. He ended his career a champion.
"I told them, 'Hey, I'm going to put us on my back and we're going to go off on a good note,' " said Smith, who had 22 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
Jackson (23-5) came into the game riding a three-game run that included buzzer-beaters and dreamlike upsets. The Timberwolves used that momentum to take a quick four-point lead. Brett Kingma (16 points) went backdoor for a layup and had the assist on the second score.
But Smith, the tournament MVP, answered. He gave the Conks (20-10) the lead with a two-handed dunk that left the rim shaking.
"It's really unlike anything you've ever faced before," said Jackson's Mike Wishko, who tried to slow down Smith. "You can't practice against that; you can't prepare for anything like that. It really doesn't feel like a human against you."
Smith also found his teammates. Alec Wilson (14 points) hit open threes. So did Skyler Genger (nine points). Jason Boyce (seven points, eight rebounds) did a little bit of everything.
"Earlier in the season I felt like everyone's confidence grew," Boyce said. "We had to go play nationally ranked teams. We had to compete without him (Smith). I felt like it just made everyone's confidence grow. When they gave us open shots, we were ready to take them and make them."
With Smith missing most of the regular season with a patellar tendon injury, his teammates had to survive without him. They played in big-time showcase games in large venues in various parts of the country.
But this was different.
"It was special over there, but this is state," Boyce said. "This is Washington. This says we're the best team in this state."
By the time Smith returned, the Conks were ready to take their game to the next level. They went 14-3 after Smith returned.
"There's not much to say," Kentwood coach Michael Angelidis said. "The best thing is we don't have to go to practice tomorrow and we don't need to try to figure out what we did wrong and what we could have done better. It's such a great feeling."
After the game, once he had talked to reporters, Smith walked off the floor with the net around his neck. The No. 1 high-school center in the country, who took over Tacoma for four days, walked off the floor with a smile as wide as his wingspan.
JACKSON Brett Kingma 6-16 2-4 16, Ryan Todd 3-9 2-4 8, Andy Gay 1-2 0-0 2, Marshall Massengale 4-8 4-4 12, Austin O'Keefe 3-5 1-2 7, Mason Golchrist 0-2 0-0 0, Mike Wishko 4-5 0-0 11. Totals 21-47 9-14 56.
KENTWOOD Alec Wilson 4-7 2-4 12, Mikell Everette 2-4 0-2 4, Max Manthou 0-0 0-0 0, Isaiah Malvar 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor Jones 3-5 0-0 6, Jason Boyce 3-8 1-2 7, Skyler Genger 3-4 0-0 9, Tre Tyler 1-10 0-0 2, Joshua Smith 10-12 2-7 22. Totals 27-53 5-15 64.
Three-point shooting — Jackson 5-14 (Wishko 3-4); Kentwood 5-18 (Genger 3-3). Rebounds — Jackson 30 (Wishko 10); Kentwood 37 (Smith 15). Assists — Jackson 9 (Todd 3, Massengale 3); Kentwood 11 (Smith 5). Steals — Jackson 2 (Kingma 2); Kentwood 5 (Tyler 2). Blocked shots — Kentwood 1 (Smith 1).