How big was David Jenkins Jr. on Saturday?
“He’s a lion. He’s a lion,” Wilson High School boys basketball coach Dave Alwert said of his junior guard. “He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever seen.”
Jenkins had a performance like few before it in Wilson history, scoring 35 points — including eight of the ninth-ranked Rams final 10 — with seven rebounds and five assists. That it came in a 77-74 victory in the rubber match of the season series against cross-town rival and fifth-ranked Lincoln to give Wilson its first Class 3A West Central/Southwest Bi-District title in school history made it that much more meaningful.
Jenkins got to the rim, drained a pair of contested 3-pointers and kept the Abes at bay late with free throws. He scored 20 points in the first half, hitting a step-back 3-pointer just before the halftime horn to put Wilson ahead 41-30 at the break.
“No lie, it felt good,” Jenkins said. “Usually when I hit the step-back 3, that’s when I get hot.”
Jenkins hit a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left in the game to put Wilson ahead 77-74.
Lincoln’s Trevion Brown, who scored a team-high 23 points, released a shot just in front of coach Aubrey Shelton, but well behind the 3-point line at the buzzer. It rolled around the rim and flung out.
“I thought it was down,” Shelton said. “I absolutely thought it was down.”
Said Jenkins: “Before the game, Coach said, ‘Let’s just win it. Last year, if we lost, we had an easier team to get into state. But this year we had a whole new attitude. We said, ‘Man, let’s win it all.’ ”
Lincoln rallied back from that 11-point halftime deficit with ease. The Abes went on a 9-0 run with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, the third from Josiah Barsh. He hit another with 1 minute, 11 seconds left in the third quarter to put Lincoln ahead 54-53.
Barsh finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“It seemed like we played as individuals in the first half and as a team in the second half,” Shelton said. “Which is actually really encouraging to learn that lesson one more time and not be out.”
Jenkins went back to work. He connected through a foul, and hit the free throw with 5:27 to go to put Wilson up 65-64. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter.
And the Rams didn’t trail again.
Lincoln’s Trevante Anderson missed a 3-pointer and Jenkins grabbed the rebound with 4.8 seconds left. He hit both free throws to push Wilson’s lead to 77-74.
The Rams avenged last year’s loss to Lincoln in the district championship. And took a 2-1 lead in a season series that has been decided by just three points.
Not that they couldn’t very well see each other again. A more suitable venue might be the Tacoma Dome.
“The first thing I’m thinking right now is we have to get back in the gym,” Jenkins said. “We have to get back in the gym, get the shots in, keep doing things as a team, have some team dinners and make our team chemistry even stronger.”
Violet Morrow connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1 minute, 56 seconds to play to push the Rams’ lead to 54-50 and Wilson (20-4) held on from there to win its second district title in three years.
“We are some fighters,” said Morrow, who scored a team-high 19 points. “We came back and we redeemed ourselves.”
Lange, after scoring 67 points and grabbing 34 rebounds over her previous two games, didn’t score. She went to the floor hard on a shot attempt with about a minute left in the first quarter and had to be helped off the floor. She returned briefly in the second, but limped back off and didn’t return.