At first, Lincoln hardly looked deserving of its No. 2 ranking in Class 3A when it faced No. 6 Mountlake Terrace on Saturday night at Highline Community College.
Then 6-foot-6, Pacific-12 Conference-bound Tre-Shaun Fletcher showed why.
Fletcher scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as he helped the Abes rally from a 12-point deficit, making nearly every key play in the final minute to lead Lincoln to a 60-59 non-league victory.
Fletcher dominated late in every phase of the game. He isolated Mountlake Terrace’s Greg Bowman at the top of the key, got to the basket, and scored to tie it at 59-all with 54 seconds to go. He then wrestled a rebound away on the next possession, and drew a two-shot foul under Lincoln’s basket.
Fletcher missed the first, but hit the second for Lincoln’s first lead of the game, then emphatically blocked a desperation 3-point try by Jesse Zerom in the final seconds to secure the win and hand the Hawks (4-1) their first loss.
“He is a gamer,” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said of Fletcher, who scored 17 points in the second half. “He played with a lot of passion and energy, and we had to ride him.”
“In the huddle I just kept telling my guys to keep fighting,” Fletcher said. “That’s what we did. We were scrappy and that is the biggest thing about this team this year. We’re scrappy and we’ll always keep fighting.”
The Abes entered the game with a lot of hype considering it starts two Pac-12 commits – Fetcher (Colorado) and Ahmaad Rorie (California).
Mountlake Terrace didn’t seem impressed.
Lincoln (3-0) found itself in a 17-4 hole late in the first quarter when Hawks point guard Marquis Armstead collected his own miss and scored, through contact, for a three-point play. He gave the Abes fits the entire game as he led his team with 27 points.
Lincoln shot 25 percent from the field in the first quarter and its first-half shooting included 1-for-9 accuracy from 3-point range.
The Abes trailed 45-33 in the third quarter, but they cut it to 49-45 by the end of the period after turning up the defensive pressure, forcing turnovers, and finally getting Fletcher and Rorie rolling offensively.
Lincoln’s duo combined to score 13 of Lincoln’s 15 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Abes rally in the final minute for the victory.
“We went up against two Pac-12 players tonight and our guys didn’t shy away,” said Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood.
Rorie finished with 16 points.
Mountlake Terrace’s Loren Lacasse recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds.