Jackson steps up this summer | Boys basketball

Nine players back for Timberwolves
By David Pan | Aug 03, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Jackson’s Ben Olesen plays defense against Bothell during a game at Bothell High School.

Jackson boys basketball coach Steve Johnson came into the summer optimistic about the Timberwolves’ prospects for the upcoming season.

The Wolfpack returns nine players from last season’s squad that fell just a game short of advancing to the state regional tournament.

After a busy summer that included tournaments and two team camps at the University of Washington and Gonzaga University, Johnson liked what he saw from his players

“I thought, all in all, summer was good,” Johnson said. “With an experienced team coming in we wanted to challenge ourselves as much as possible. We only lost a handful of games and all of those were to pretty good programs and they were competitive games.”

Jackson faced off against some of the better teams in the state, including Eastside Catholic, Mount Si, defending 4A state champion Gonzaga Prep and some solid out-of-state teams. The Wolfpack started off the offseason by winning the Franklin Tournament.

The Timberwolves’ success against the high level competition definitely reinforced Johnson’s initial upbeat assessment of his team.

“Summer proved it,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have to work hard.”

Jackson’s core – seniors Christian Liddell, Ben Olesen, Kyle Bigovich – all excelled this summer, Johnson said.

“We had a lot of guys step up,” he said.

Two players who made significant strides in their game this summer were sophomore Carter Korab, who swung between varsity and junior varsity, and junior Jesse Hoiby, a varsity reserve.

“(Korab) has really made a big jump in terms of his ability to impact a game. He can go inside and outside,” Johnson said. (Hoiby) improved and played very well.”

Johnson noted that teams go through cycles in terms of numbers of returning players.

“This is definitely one of the more experienced teams,” he said.

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