Sometimes those pointed heart-to-heart postgame discussions — talks not for the faint of heart — can transmit through one ear and out the other.
But Jamila Jones is persistent and influential in the Lincoln High School girls basketball locker room. After watching a few shaky outings early, he has delivered the right knockout message.
Get post player Tamia Braggs her touches.
Everything else will come much easier.
Poised and efficient, the Abes handed visiting Enumclaw its worst loss of the season, 58-29, in the opening round of the Class 3A West Central District tournament Wednesday night.
Guard Joy Failauga led Lincoln (13-5) with 14 points. Braggs and Morticia Mc’Call added 13 apiece. And before the game got out of hand, the Abes made 21 of 44 shot attempts through three quarters.
It was an impressive performance given that just a month ago, they were scattered and inconsistent.
“We are playing way better because we finally learned how to play as a team,” said Lincoln point guard Aamira Turner, who scored just four points but added six assists. “At first we had a lot of selfishness. We decided to do it for each other.”
The two biggest positives Wednesday were Failauga’s outside shooting — she made three consecutive 3-pointers from the same left-side spot on the floor to start the game — and the rest of the Abes guards patiently waiting for Braggs to flash open.
Braggs, a powerful 6-foot-1 junior, did not have a wild scoring game, but she also finished with five blocked shots, four rebounds and two assists while fighting foul trouble.
“The (early issues) were more taking early shots,” Jones said. “People try and take Tamia away, so it is just being patient.”
Enumclaw (11-10), the fourth-place finisher in the 3A SPSL, is a different team without point guard Samantha Engebretsen (leg), who is out for the rest of the season. Kylie Rademacher did her best to score inside, but the Hornets missed lots of outside shots, finishing 11 for 47.
“To their credit, they did not allow anything on the perimeter,” Enumclaw coach Mindi Dribnak said. “They did a good job with their pressure.”
Last season, the Abes made an unexpected run to the district semifinals. They are one game away from repeating the feat.
“It took us a while to learn to play with each other,” Jones said. “They all decided they wanted to be in the foxhole together. They just wanted to keep playing.
“Half the team has never seen the inside of the (Tacoma Dome). They are excited to try and get there.”