Almost every warm body inside Lincoln High School’s packed gymnasium was either standing or stunned. Josiah Barsh had stolen the ball near halfcourt, charged for the hoop and threw down a thunderous left-handed dunk with his head almost at the rim.
Almost everyone — except for those along the Wilson bench.
Barsh’s dunk followed his deep 3-pointer to give Lincoln its first lead with just under three minutes left in the third quarter. While most in the stands were still comprehending what had occurred, Wilson responded with an 8-0 run with six consecutive points from Keun Palu-Thompson.
And when Lincoln clawed back, David Jenkins finished it, scoring 12 of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to lift fifth-ranked Wilson to a 55-53 3A Narrows League victory over the seventh-ranked Abes on Wednesday.
“We knew we had to show up and perform,” Jenkins said. “We knew this wasn’t just for the team. We knew this was for bragging rights; this was for the top of the town.”
Jenkins found his rhythm when he pulled up with a 3-pointer at the top of the key near the start of the fourth quarter. He followed with a drive to the basket to give Wilson (9-1, 5-0 3A Narrows) a 48-40 lead.
Lincoln’s Dionte Simon, who finished with nine points, was playing in his second game of the season after coming off a knee injury suffered during football season. But he darted to the basket on back-to-back possessions to give the Abes (8-2, 4-1) a 53-52 lead with less than a minute remaining.
Each time, Jenkins responded. He scored the Rams’ final five points, first after bulling to the rim, then knocking down free throws. His two after Simon’s go-ahead bucket put Wilson back ahead with 18 seconds left.
Trevion Brown, who scored a team-high 11 points for Lincoln, missed a 3-pointer at the top of the key. Jenkins recovered the rebound, hit a free throw on the other end and Barsh’s desperation shot from half court didn’t get off in time as Wilson held on.
“I look up to Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry,” Jenkins said. “I know they always want the ball in their hands for the last shot. So I knew I had to have the ball in my hands to score.”
Said Wilson coach Dave Alwert: “He was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. And we recognized some things as coaches that we will take with us for the rest of the season when it comes to David and how we want him playing.”
Wilson forced nine turnovers with its full-court press in the first quarter, racing out to a 17-7 lead.
But Alwert called off the press because he didn’t want his players getting in foul trouble, and Lincoln started the second quarter with a 9-0 run.
“I apologized to our guys,” Alwert said. “I called off the dogs. I told them I owe them 100 pushups. I’ll give them to them tomorrow.”
In one sitting?
“I think I can get them in two,” he said.
But the turning point in this one was Barsh’s dunk. He finished with eight points after sitting out most all the second quarter with two fouls, but his deep 3-pointer, followed by the jaw-dropping dunk could have been a moment that deflated Wilson and lifted the Abes.
Instead, it was the other way around.
“I feel like we probably got too hyped for that,” Barsh said. “We should have settled down. That was a big tone-setter, but it messed us up a little bit, too.”
Alwert immediately called a timeout to settle the place down, as the announcer asked fans to keep off the court.
“It was just a phenomenal basketball play. You got to call a timeout after that,” Alwert said. “Get everybody to take a deep breath and hit the reset button. It was just a dunk, just two points.
“It was a nasty two points, but two points.”