Lincoln girls can't keep up with Cleveland in quarterfinals

Staff writerMarch 6, 2014 

Imagine what it would be like for a stock Chevrolet Camaro to race alongside a custom-made Hennessey Venom GT sports car.

One car is super fast.

The other one is unmatched.

That is what it was like when the Lincoln High School girls tried to chase down defending Class 3A champion Cleveland, the roadrunners of basketball in Washington.

The No. 1 Eagles scored on 10 consecutive possessions in the first quarter, and sped away for a 65-26 victory in the state quarterfinals Thursday in the Tacoma Dome.

All-state guard Makala Roper led Cleveland (25-3) with 19 points. Alexia Mefi added 17. The Eagles shot 55.3 percent from the floor, making 26 of 47 field goal attempts.

It was the first quarter that buried the Abes. It usually is for a team still a tad wide-eyed and adjusting to being in the state tournament for the first time in eight years.

Lincoln (20-7) is up-tempo, but the Eagles’ pressure dictated the show. It forced the Abes into doing things they don’t normally do.

“We looked nervous and anxious, which I didn’t expect,” Lincoln coach Jamila Jones said. “We had been playing so well, especially handling pressure toward the end of the season, and we got back to (wrongfully) breaking the press with the dribble.”

It didn’t help that Lincoln’s Tamia Braggs, the 3A Narrows player of the year, picked up her second personal foul just 2 minutes, 20 seconds into the game, and had to sit.

Then the Eagles went to work. Myzhanique Ladd stole the ball and went in for an easy layup and scored. Off another turnover, Cleveland scored 11 seconds after that on Roper’s runner for a 12-0 Eagles’ lead.

Aamira Turner broke the run with her jumper, but Cleveland scored the next six points, capped by Roper’s 12-footer in the lane.

Roper later added back-to-back 3-pointers from the same spot in the left corner near the end of the quarter. Cleveland’s lead grew to 26-6.

“It is hard to prepare for speed when you are just looking at it on film,” Eagles coach Stephenie Wheeler-Smith said. “You can only tell what it is like once you get on the floor and go against it over and over and over again.”

Added Jones: “They go fast. We’re used to being fast … but they have a lot of fast bodies.”

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