Aubrey Shelton would not have believed it if he hadn’t seen it.
“I’ve been in some wild comebacks before, but not like this,” Lincoln’s coach said. “Not against a team that good.”
The sixth-ranked Abes pulled off a comeback that will be talked about for years against top-ranked Federal Way in the West Central District boys basketball title game Friday at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Lincoln erased a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit and stunned the Eagles, 59-56.
“It was a miracle,” Abes guard Carlos Anderson said. “No other way to describe it.”
It was Anderson’s heady play that lifted Lincoln (18-7) to its second district title in three seasons. Tied at 56 with 20 seconds left, Federal Way (23-2) missed three shots near the basket, then a scrum for the ball sent it away from hoop. Anderson corralled the loose ball near the 3-point arc, raced down court and was fouled on a made lay-in with 1.8 seconds left, sending Lincoln’s fans into a raucous celebration that continued for 30 minutes after the game ended. Anderson’s free throw capped a fourth quarter that saw the Abes outscore the Eagles 29-5.
“It really was a team effort in the fourth quarter,” Shelton said. “Jordan Russell was hitting his shots, Damani Coley was getting to the rim, Carlos Anderson forced so many turnovers. Geno Horsley was in there. It was everybody.”
Staring at a 51-30 deficit at the end of the third quarter, Shelton pleaded with his players.
“I told them to just play with some heart,” he said. “If they did that, I knew we would at least have a chance. It’s a long, long game and we could make a run.”
The victory soothed an embarrassing season-opening loss. Federal Way crushed Lincoln 110-85 on Dec. 1 after surging to a 37-9 lead in the first quarter. The Abes had not forgotten that defeat and relished the opportunity for revenge.
“We’ve had Federal Way on our hit list for the past month,” Anderson said. “We didn’t come here for nothing.”
Russell led Lincoln with 14 points, and Terrell Lewis and Coley had 11.
Federal Way guard Isiah Umipig almost sent the game into overtime after Anderson made the free throw. His 60-foot shot hit the backboard and caromed off the front of the rim as time expired. Cole Dickerson scored a game-high 22 points for the Eagles.
As he walked off the court, Eagles coach Jerome Collins gave credit to Lincoln.
“We had a lack of poise and got complacent,” he said. “We just didn’t execute. Give them credit, they turned up the heat.”
Decatur 54, Wilson 51: The Gators held off a late Rams rally and performed an exorcism in the process.
“We finally defeated the ShoWare demons,” Decatur coach Kevin Olson said. “We were 0-3 in this place.”
With the victory, Decatur (17-9) secured the district’s third seed to the state tournament and will be placed on the bracket as one of eight No. 1 teams. Olson knows that does not assure the Gators an easy first-round opponent but gives them something else.
“The biggest thing is that this builds our confidence,” he said. “We didn’t want to go into the state tournament having lost two in a row.”
Jerron Smith led the Gators with 15 points, and Terrell Williams and Jordan McCloud chipped in 12 a piece.
Three fourth-quarter 3-pointers from Rams guard Mikey Hope kept the Rams in the game. Wilson (18-8) had a chance to send it to overtime, but a 3-pointer at the buzzer missed. Hope scored a team-high 15 points, and Xavier Cooper added 11.
The Rams (18-8) are the district’s No. 6 seed heading into the state tournament.