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David Krueger and Herald staff | dkrueger@heraldnet.com
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013, 2:46 a.m.

Jackson's state final bring back a little Deja Vu

Every year the WIAA state basketball championships bring mixed emotions for me.

They bring back the memories of great accomplishments that I will be proud of forever. They also bring back the memories of a bitter defeat.

I played basketball 13 years ago for Wapato High School. We were fortunate enough to advance to the state championship game, ultimately falling to Blaine High School, which was led by Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Luke Ridnour.

Saturday night the Jackson Timberwolves advanced to the title game to play Curtis. The Timberwolves were looking to complete an undefeated season and win the state title.

In the end, a furious comeback effort ended in a 60-56 loss in the big game.

As I looked at the scoreboard, Deja Vu hit me. The final score of my championship game, 60-56 in overtime in favor of the Borderites.

As members of the media we aren't supposed to root for anyone, but we are human. Over the course of a year we get to know the players and coaches and when they reach a level of success we feel, to a certain extent, their achievements and disappointments right along with them. Watching the Timberwolves fight valiantly to comeback and ultimately fall hurt me. I can't imagine what it did to the players.

When I saw Jason Todd being helped out of the locker room after the game with ankle severely swollen, I had to fight back my own tears. It's a respect that I have for a group of individuals who put everything they have into an ultimate goal.

In sports there have to be a winner and a loser and no matter how hard that is, lessons are there to be learned for both sides.

I didn't play much in high school, but on championship teams everyone has to be committed from the top player to the 12th player. I was the 12th player. But I respected my role and learned many life lessons to cherish and that will always stay with me. To this day I'm very close with my teammates, especially the six other seniors on my team.

Jason Todd is the top player on his team. That means that for better or worse he gets the attention. He is deserving of this. Todd is the best high-school basketball player I have ever seen. In my opinion even better than Ridnour. When I saw him being carried out I put myself in that position. If I was his teammate, I would be devastated seeing the leader of such a great team in so much pain after playing in the biggest game of his life. I suspect through the disappointment all his teammates were feeling that they were.

The score of the game wasn't the only similarity to my championship game. The Timberwolves also have a great class of athletes. In this case, the Class of 2014. When I played, our group was seniors. It was the last game we would ever play. Taking off that jersey that night was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

I look at Jackson and I see a similar group of individuals, except they are juniors. The pain the Timberwolves players feel has to be incredible, but it will pass. One day they will look back on what they accomplished this season and be incredibly proud. They will realize that the cohesiveness is rare. They will realize that the life lessons they have learned from coach Steve Johnson can never be replaced. They will be proud of what they did.

But I will forgive them if they wait until after next season to let all those things sink in. This team is still the best team in the state in my opinion and they now have unfinished business. Unlike the team I played on, they have a chance to make things right -- to make up for a night where things didn't go there way.

Congratulations on a great season. You all have a lot to be proud of.

I expect that you will to be the most motivated team in the state and I would be shocked if you don't win it all next season.

I know I for one will be rooting for you.

ed at the scoreboard, Deja Vu hit me. The final score of my championship game, 60-56 in overtime in favor of the Borderites.

As members of the media we aren't supposed to root for anyone, but we are human. Over the course of a year we get to know the players and coaches and when they reach a level of success we feel, to a certain extent, their achievements and disappointments right along with them. Watching the Timberwolves fight valiantly to comeback and ultimately fall hurt me. I can't imagine what it did to the players.

When I saw Jason Todd being helped out of the locker room after the game with ankle severely swollen, I had to fight back my own tears. It's a respect that I have for a group of individuals who put everything they have into an ultimate goal.

In sports there have to be a winner and a loser and no matter how hard that is, lessons are there to be learned for both sides.

I didn't play much in high school, but on championship teams everyone has to be committed from the top player to the 12th player. I was the 12th player. But I respected my role and learned many life lessons to cherish and that will always stay with me. To this day I'm very close with my teammates, especially the six other seniors on my team.

Jason Todd is the top player on his team. That means that for better or worse he gets the attention. He is deserving of this. Todd is the best high-school basketball player I have ever seen. In my opinion even better than Ridnour. When I saw him being carried out I put myself in that position. If I was his teammate, I would be devastated seeing the leader of such a great team in so much pain after playing in the biggest game of his life. I suspect through the disappointment all his teammates were feeling that they were.

The score of the game wasn't the only similarity to my championship game. The Timberwolves also have a great class of athletes. In this case, the Class of 2014. When I played, our group was seniors. It was the last game we would ever play. Taking off that jersey that night was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

I look at Jackson and I see a similar group of individuals, except they are juniors. The pain the Timberwolves players feel has to be incredible, but it will pass. One day they will look back on what they accomplished this season and be incredibly proud. They will realize that the cohesiveness is rare. They will realize that the life lessons they have learned from coach Steve Johnson can never be replaced. They will be proud of what they did.

But I will forgive them if they wait until after next season to let all those things sink in. This team is still the best team in the state in my opinion and they now have unfinished business. Unlike the team I played on, they have a chance to make things right -- to make up for a night where things didn't go there way.

Congratulations on a great season. You all have a lot to be proud of.

I expect that you will to be the most motivated team in the state and I would be shocked if you don't win it all next season.

I know I for one will be rooting for you.

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