For this season, you won’t hear the seventh-ranked Lincoln girls basketball team complain one bit about the WIAA’s new state basketball format.
They lost Friday in the Class 3A regional round.
But they are still alive in the postseason.
Snohomish, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, overcame a big second-half deficit to trip up the Abes, 41-39, in overtime Friday night at Puyallup High School.
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The Panthers (17-9) advance directly to the 3A state quarterfinals Thursday in the Tacoma Dome.
Instead of seeing their season end, as in years past, the Abes (19-6) are also going to the 3A tournament. They will play Wednesday at 9 a.m. against the Edmonds-Woodway-West Seattle regional winner.
It is because of the new state format. Any team ranked in the top eight of the RPI that advanced through their respective district tournament automatically goes into the state bracket.
“You know, we earned the right to be in the position we are in,” Lincoln coach Jamila Jones said. “We have to play (early) Wednesday, and they are excited about spending a full day at the Dome, and we will enjoy that experience.
“Now we have to take care of business.”
This was a game Friday that Lincoln had well in hand. The Abes closed the first half on a 6-0 run in the final 58.9 seconds, capped by Faith Brantley’s runner in the key at the buzzer, to grab a 23-10 lead at intermission.
The Panthers could not do anything right, shooting 4 for 23 from the floor. And Kyra Beckman, their top frontcourt player, made 1 of 11 shots, scoring four points.
But Snohomish put together a big fourth quarter — and eventually took a 36-35 lead on Courtney Perry’s putback with 1:07 remaining.
“We stopped talking on defense,” Jones said. “They run a lot of away-from-the-ball screens, and if you don’t talk through it, you give up a layup. I don’t know if we got tired or what.”
The Panthers upped it to 38-35 on two free throws by Maya Duchesne with 26.1 seconds to go.
The Abes were not done. After a timeout, Jones called a play to get Brantley off a double screen in the left corner, and she knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining.
“She hit a big shot,” Jones said.
But in overtime, the Abes’ only points came off one Morticia McCall free throw early in the extra session.
Trailing 41-39, Lincoln had a chance to tie again when McCall was fouled in the lane with 3.6 seconds remaining. McCall missed the first free throw — and tried intentionally to miss the next one.
“I was trying to hit the front so it would bounce back to me,” McCall said.
Instead it went off the side of the rim, and Perry corralled the rebound to run out the clock.
The Abes will tip it up for one more game, however.
“I feel grateful because this is my senior year,” said McCall, who led all scorers with 18 points. “I want to go further than we ever have as a group.”