By the looks on both coaches’ faces, you’d think Friday was a first-day scrimmage.
Instead, it was a first-week, city-rivalry blockbuster.
Foss held the Class 2A state title, but for another year, it was Lincoln that grabbed bragging rights — courtesy of the Abes’ 73-59 non-league victory on their home floor in Tacoma.
Willie Thomas led all scorers with 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots for the Abes. Emmett Linton III added 16 points, and Anthony Braggs III chipped in with 12.
Micah Pollard paced the Falcons with 16 points, while Demetrius Crosby added 15.
Yet, both coaches pointed out the countless miscues. Lincoln’s Aubrey Shelton anguished over 22 turnovers by his senior-led squad, feeling like the Falcons’ defense dictated long stretches of action.
“Usually we play Foss in late December,” Shelton said. “This is super early, so I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. But I expected a little bit better than that.”
And Foss’ Mike Cocke cringed at both his team’s free-throw shooting (15 of 31) and passing, which netted just four assists on 19 made field goals.
“Last year, offensively we were very talented, and the ball would move around,” Cocke said. “Our guys who have been backups in the past, who now play major minutes, I thought they played sped up.”
The Abes scored on five of their first six possessions to start the game, grabbing a 14-2 lead just 2:33 into the game. Thomas started it with a three-point play, then a corner 3-pointer Lincoln’s first two trips.
Lincoln’s lead grew to 47-31 on Kashaud Babbs’ bucket to open the second half.
Slowly, the Falcons’ defensive pressure started to turn Lincoln over, and help the defending state champions get back into the game. Pollard’s putback cut it to 50-40 with 4:28 to go in the third quarter.
But in one fast swoop, the Abes regained the edge.
Braggs came charging down the baseline, and converted a nifty inside basket to snap Foss’ 6-0 run.
And on the Falcons’ inbounds pass, Lincoln ninth grader Julien Simon intercepted the ball, and went inside for a bucket, and was fouled.
Simon missed the free throw, but the Abes led, 64-50.
“(Foss) certainly had the momentum,” Shelton said. “But a senior made a play, then a freshman made a play. It got it back for us.”
The Abes actually shot it well, both from the field (26 of 53) and the free-throw line (15 of 21).
But they were unhappy campers coming out of the locker room afterward.
“It is because we let them come back, and we didn’t execute in the offense,” Thomas said. “We rushed it and started panicking because they were pressing us.”
At Lincoln 73, Foss 59
F: Pollard 16, Crosby 15, Kelly 13, Glenn-Leufroy 8, Massey 6, Griffis-SantaCruz 1, Barnes.
L: Thomas 17, Linton 16, Braggs 12, Bonds 8, Babbs 7, Dillingham 4, Yearby 3, D. Dillingham 2, Campbell 2, Simon 2, Williams.