If you do a web search for the world “mismatch,” you’ll likely find a picture of Timpanogos senior guard Jackson Holcombe.
Anybody who isn’t — like Holcombe — 6-foot-6, broad-shouldered and quick on their feet will find themselves in for a very long night.
Holcombe was a handful in the T-Wolves 2020-21 opener against Maple Mountain, scoring 19 points and adding half a dozen rebounds and assists in a 56-42 victory on Thursday.
Holcombe averaged 15 points a game as a junior and with all of the isolation due to COVID-19 this summer had time to work on his individual game.
“I spent a lot of time in the weight room and added a lot of good weight,” Holcombe said. “I got better controlling the ball against pressure and worked on my ball handling. I didn’t get to shoot the ball a lot tonight but I’ve been working on my shot. I’m grateful when everything was shut down I had access to a gym to become a better player.”
Holcombe scored the first two baskets of the game by powering through his defender on driving layups. As the first quarter came to a close, Holcombe bulled his way to the basket for a 3-point play and a 13-7 lead.
To open the second quarter, Holcombe grabbed an offensive rebound and scored another and-one, pushing the Timpanogos advantage to 16-9. Later in the second the T-Wolves led 22-11 when Luke Maddox scored on a drive and the home team took a 24-19 lead into the locker room at the half.
Holcombe had 12 points at the break.
The Golden Eagles cut into the Timpanogos lead in the third quarter with some good 3-point shooting, including a trio of bombs from Wally Averett. But the home team still led 40-32 heading into the final period.
Sophomore Bron Roberts threw down a follow dunk to open the fourth quarter, followed by a 3-pointer from Gavin Scott for a 45-32 Timpanogos advantage. The lead never got below 10 points as the T-Wolves earned their first win of the season.
“I thought our energy straight out of the gate was really good,” Holcombe said. “Our defense was outstanding in the first half and we held them to 14 points. In the second half they had a kid get really hot and I mean, we just battled. Maple Mountain, hats off to them. They always play really hard and it’s always a battle. We knew that coming on and I was proud of the way the guys fought.”
Timpanogos coach Israel Ingle was diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia before the Thanksgiving break and went into isolation protocol, watching practices over live stream and phoning his assistant coaches during drills. Thursday was the first day he was allowed to interact with his team.
“We’re really excited to get the win,” Ingle said. “There are so many little things that we pride ourselves on that we haven’t had time to work on. But it was great to get a win over a really good team and still have a lot of room to improve. Usually we get two weeks to practice before our first game but we had four days.
“We have a lot of things to tighten up to get better. Our defensive habits are not anywhere near where they need to be. We were like a deacon’s quorum group out there on defense sometimes but that’s where we are now.”
Bron Roberts added 12 points for Timpanogos (1-0) and Scott and Jake Payne had nine points each.
Averett finished with five triples for Maple Mountain (0-1) and 15 points.
The T-Wolves jump into the fire on Friday against the No. 1 team in Class 6A, American Fork, and on Saturday face Lone Peak.
“We’re super excited,” Holcombe said. “We want to play the best always. Those two schools are notorious for being the best and want to go right at them.”