If you enjoy intense basketball rivalries from 120 miles away, stay tuned.
The possibility of a rematch at the Class 3A tournament is a mouth-watering idea.
Third-ranked Lincoln’s defense won out as the Abes stopped No. 2 Prairie, 44-42, in the West Central/Southwest district girls semifinals Wednesday night at Foss High School.
The Abes (22-1) will meet 3A PCL counterpart Bethel for the district championship Saturday at 2 p.m. at Puyallup High School.
This highly-contested matchup had a little bit of everything — good outside shooting, crafty inside buckets, long stretches of fantastic defense. It even had some pushing and grabbing.
The Falcons (20-3) missed their final seven shots of the first half, a 3:43 span, to give the Abes a big opportunity.
And they took advantage, finishing the half on an 11-0 run, capped by A’shia Donahue’s basket, that gave Lincoln a 29-21 lead.
“It was pretty intense,” Abes point guard Kondalia Montgomery said. “We had to play aggressive, and make them feel like they were not going to win.”
The lead grew to 12 points early in the second half — just in time for the intensity to bubble over.
On a loose ball near midcourt, Prairie’s Allison Corral laid out to recover it, and was met by a couple of Abes’ defenders.
When the whistle blew, the extracurricular activity did not cease as the players kept rolling around, eventually grabbing at one another. Eventually, Corral was dragged away from the ball by a Lincoln player.
Immediately, Prairie coach Hala Corral ran to midcourt to protest the rough play. The Abes were whistled for a technical foul.
The Falcons ended up turning it into a five-point possession, and suddenly the Lincoln lead was down to 36-31 with 41.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“The doghouse rules,” Lincoln coach Jamila Jones sad. “It is a 32-minute sparring match. At the end of the day, somebody gets knocked out, or they tap out.”
Jones’ message was not a literal one. He meant to say he likes his team to play with an edge.
“They are physical,” said Prairie’s Brooke Walling, who led all scorers with 19 points. “They are not like any team we’ve faced at all this season.”
Walling eventually gave the Falcons their final lead, 42-40, on an inside bucket with 1:24 remaining. But Nashontae Frazier answered for the Abes, knocking down a 3-pointer 14 seconds later.
Montgomery’s free throw gave the Abes a 44-42 lead with 10.4 seconds to go.
Out of a Prairie timeout, Walling tried to win it, but her left-side 3-pointer was too strong at the buzzer. It was Prairie’s first loss to a school from Washington this season.
“This has developed into a mid-state rivalry, and I enjoy it,” Jones said. “I enjoy it. Prairie never quits. They always play hard. And they are always good.”
Bethel 55, Gig Harbor 47: Esmeralda Morales’ ball-hawking skill was enough to pull the fifth-ranked Braves out of an early double-digit hole.
The Bethel point guard had 11 steals to go along with her 14 points, and the Braves will play in their first district title game since 2004-05.
Tianna Brown tallied a game-high 21 points, while sister Tiarra Brown added 16 — six coming in the fourth quarter.
The sixth-ranked Tides cut it to 41-40 on Neil’s basket with 4:47 to go, but the Braves (21-2) scored the next eight points.
Maddie Willett and Sydney Langworthy led Gig Harbor (18-5) with 16 points apiece.