Lincoln High School girls basketball coach Jamila Jones spoke to his team about two things that are required of champions.
One is playing lockdown defense. The other is finishing an opponent when they’re on the ropes.
The Abes executed both — like you’d expect of champions.
They cruised to a 50-26 victory at Bethel on Tuesday night to clinch their second consecutive league title — winning the 3A Narrows League title last year and the 3A Pierce County League this year.
“We talked about what you have to do to be a champion and committing to wanting to be a great team,” Jones said. “And they did it as a group.”
First, the defense.
Lincoln (15-4, 12-1 3A PCL) hounded Bethel (16-3, 11-2) so much to start the game that it forced two shot-clock violations in the first five possessions. And on one of those possessions, it forced a long 3-pointer that Morticia McCall blocked as the shot clock was expiring.
Then the finishing.
The Abes led, 20-15, near the end of the second quarter, then they went on a 20-0 run before Bethel’s Tianna Brown, a junior who was the two-time MVP of the 4A SPSL before Bethel moved down to 3A this year, hit a long 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter.
Lincoln outscored Bethel, 20-3, in the third period to take a 43-18 lead.
“We just have to come out with a mindset — it’s our game and we have to take over,” said Lincoln’s Shawndreia Brown, who tied a team-high with 14 points. “There’s nothing you can say about it, you just have to come out and do what you have to do.”
Bethel was trying to become the first to top a Tacoma school for the league title since Timberline won the 3A Narrows over second-place Wilson in the 2010-11 season. Wilson then won the next four league titles and Lincoln has clinched the past two.
Tianna Brown led Bethel with 13 points before she fouled out with 3:09 remaining.
“I don’t think we played with confidence,” Bethel coach John Ainslie said. “This is the worst we’ve played all year.
“Now, I attribute a lot of that to what Lincoln was doing defensively against us. But we played defensively on offense. It’s like we had never run a play before.”
McCall also scored 14 points for Lincoln. Faith Brantley added 10 points and Kondalia Montgomery had eight points and 20 rebounds.
It was the team effort Jones was looking for — especially with the Abes coming off losses to Bellevue and Wilson in the past two weeks.
“As a team, we broke apart and that’s how that loss to Wilson came,” McCall said. “But we had to make sure we came together and make sure we go for that league title.”
“I think it was about respecting each other and our coaches talked about that,” Shawndreia Brown said. “We’re starting to come together better as a team because we’re starting to realize how much we want it.”
So Lincoln got back to the same tough, defensive play that worked in its first meeting against Bethel, a 50-36 victory on Jan. 6.
“My grandma would tell me growing up that sometimes you have to bump your head,” Jones said. “They wanted to go through league undefeated and we blew it against Wilson. But at the end of the day, it’s a bump on our head.”
Auburn Riverside 51, Todd Beamer 41: McKenzi Williams scored 23 points and Olivia Denton added 14 as the Ravens won their tiebreaker game for the 4A North Puget Sound League Olympic title.
The Ravens (17-5, 14-1 4A NPSL Olympic) jumped head of Beamer (18-4, 13-2) early, leading 12-4 after the first quarter, and never looked back for their second win in three games against the Titans.
“They came out and were hungry,” Beamer coach Corey Alexander said. “They got the 50-50 balls and played hard.”
Darion Brown scored 12 points for the Titans and Japhera McEachin and Makenzie Bond each scored 10.
This means Auburn Riverside will play 4A NPSL Cascade champ Kentlake on Saturday for the No. 1 seed from the NPSL to the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
Beamer will play Kentridge for the No. 3 seed on Saturday.
Kentlake 34, Kentridge 26: The Falcons beat the Chargers for the second time in three meetings to secure the 4A NPSL Cascade title in a tiebreaker game.
Aniston Denckla led Kentlake (20-2, 14-1 4A NPSL Cascade) with eight points and sister Kiernen Denckla had seven in the defensive battle.
Jordyn Jenkins scored a game-high 11 points for Kentridge (19-3, 13-2), which beat Kentlake, 50-33, on Jan. 20.