Class 3A Pierce County League opponents will have to wait another season to try to dethrone Lincoln High School.
Thursday night in Tacoma, the Abes (17-3) wrapped up their fourth consecutive undefeated league title with a 69-65 win over crosstown rival Wilson.
Lincoln has won at least a share of seven consecutive league titles — including all three since the 3A PCL was created ahead of the 2016-17 school year — dating back to when the program played in the 3A Narrows League. And, the Abes extended their winning streak over league opponents to 60 games.
First-year Lincoln coach Ryan Rogers, a former assistant with the program, said it is always a goal to win an undefeated league title, and continue the long legacy the Abes have built.
“That’s what every team wants to do, so of course it’s our goal,” Rogers said. “We’re going to keep trying to do it to the best of our ability.
“The PCL is only getting tougher. We get everybody’s best game every night. Everybody wants to take us off of the throne, so we have to bring it night in and night out, and guys have really responded this year.”
The Abes also pushed their winning streak over Wilson (13-7) to nine games after edging the Rams at Lincoln earlier this season. Wilson finished as the league runner-up for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s big,” Lincoln senior Kashaud Babbs said. “It’s our biggest rival. Every time we come (here) we want to beat them.”
Babbs unloaded a game-high 21 on the Rams to help keep Lincoln’s streaks alive, and sunk two pivotal free throws with one second remaining to seal the game for the Abes. He finished 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
“I just think about all of the work I put in at practice,” Babbs said. “I knock down a lot of free throws in practice. I just try to get the crowd out of my head and just focus.”
Wilson had a lead that reached as many as seven points in the first quarter, but Babbs knocked down a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to tie it up.
The Rams built another lead in the second quarter, but Chris Whitford nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to knot the game at 32-32 at the break.
Lincoln took control for much of the second half, often carrying two- or three-possession cushions before Wilson climbed back in the final minutes.
“We knew it was going to be a hostile environment,” Rogers said. “We have to think of ourselves as road warriors. We’re coming into somebody else’s place, and we have to play perfect down the stretch.
“We’re learning how to win games late. We’re doing a great job of staying together, not letting anything take us down, and staying really even keel.”
Wilson stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but was hampered by its second technical foul call of the game with 3:31 remaining, and some costly miscues on possessions down the stretch.
“There’s just stuff we still do as a program, and we hurt ourselves,” Wilson coach Mike Cocke’ said. “Technical fouls are important. I think they went 3 of 4 from the line with those T’s. They got the ball back with those T’s. It changes everything. We just dig ourselves these holes.
“I will say I’m proud they didn’t quit. They kept playing. ... That’s encouraging, but little things we do to hurt ourselves cost us games.”
Wilson trimmed the lead to two points with less than a minute remaining on a timely Jerome Smith 3-pointer, and got the ball back with 8.3 seconds to play after Armoni Bashay missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but couldn’t convert.
Rams senior Daniel Santana rushed down the floor, but lost control of the ball before running into Lincoln’s Mykel Campbell, who drew the charge with 2.3 seconds to go. The Abes tossed the ball in bounds, and Babbs hit the ensuing free throws after he was fouled.
Yearby (16 points) and Jayden Simon (11 points, eight rebounds) also finished in double-digit scoring for the Abes. Campbell added six points and six rebounds.
Dominique Ellison paced Wilson with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Santana added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Damani Green pitched in 12 points and five assists.
Wilson was without Santana (ankle) during Tuesday’s loss at Spanaway Lake, which helped the Abes clinch the 3A PCL title.
Cocke’ said Wilson will aim to refocus after dropping its final two league contests ahead of next week’s 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
The Abes have a bye into the quarterfinals after locking up the No. 1 seed out of the 3A PCL, are a win away from securing a trip to the state regionals, and have started to set their sights on lofty goals.
“We work hard,” Babbs said. “We work really hard and we compete. People talking in the crowd, we don’t let any of that distract us. We just play hard and listen to our coaches.
“We want to win a state championship. That’s our main goal. We’re going to keep working hard and see what happens.”
L – Shooting: 22 of 45 (48.9 percent). Free throws: 20 of 26 (76.9). Turnovers: 5.
W – Shooting: 28 of 49 (57.1 percent). Free throws: 6 of 13 (46.2). Turnovers: 11.
L – Reggie Archibald 3, Kashaud Babbs 21, Mykel Campbell 6, Earnest Yearby 16, Chris Whitford 7, Julien Simon 5, Jayden Simon 11.
W – Damani Green 12, Emani Mitchell 4, Davion Franklin 7, Daniel Santana 12, Jackson Dorsey 4, Dominique Ellison 14, Kiwanis Thomas 3, Malik Howard 3, Jerome Smith 6.