First Foss. Now Wilson.
Call Lincoln King of Tacoma.
At least for now.
The Wilson High School gym was packed before the end of the junior varsity game. Wilson graduates Isaiah, Marcus and Desmond Trufant sat in the front row near midcourt; Xavier Cooper was there. University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and Washington State coach Ernie Kent were on hand as well.
Lincoln wasn’t fazed. The 10th-ranked Abes cruised to a 73-59 road victory Wednesday against sixth-ranked Wilson in Class 3A Narrows play.
“You know, I thought they might be (nervous),” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said. “But then guys like Tre Brown — he’s telling the guys to just relax, play hard, don’t get too nervous, just play our game.
“That big crowd might have been to our favor.”
Brown scored a team-high 22 points — 16 in the first half — for Lincoln (7-2 overall, 4-0) and probably played his best defensive game, too.
Wilson’s David Jenkins Jr., coming off a career-high 51 points in a 100-95 overtime win in Canada, scored 25 points with six rebounds. Emmett Matthews Jr. had 18 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
But the Rams (8-2, 4-1) were outscored 45-22 in the second and third quarters (even with Jenkins banking a half-court shot at the end of the third).
Was the crowd a factor?
“The reality — it was,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “It’s sad. You can talk about it until you’re blue in the face, but you prepare for this by embracing the challenge and not being worried about the challenge. We’re not embracing it. We’re trying to make the home-run play instead of trust. And I had it written up here (on Wilson’s locker room whiteboard).
“It was blatant. There was no trust. You aren’t going to do that with three assists in the first half.
“I apologize to everybody who showed up and stood in line because we didn’t come to play. It’s pretty sad. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen a Wilson Ram basketball team basically just not mentally ready.”
For Lincoln, its experience in these Tacoma rivalry games showed.
“We can’t tell them it’s another normal game because it’s not,” Shelton said. “It’s packed before the JV game is over. You just got to tell them to focus on what we do on the court, don’t worry about the crowd.”
Wilson led 17-14 after the first quarter when Jenkins ended it with three free throws. But the Rams made 4 of 16 shots in the second quarter and Lincoln led 39-25 at halftime.
Brown scored 14 points in the second quarter, setting the pace. The senior guard scored his 22 points on nine field goals. Brandon Cotton added 15 points, and Dionte Simon got the brunt of the work defending Jenkins.
Jenkins tried to bring his team back in the fourth, cutting a 20-point deficit to start the final quarter to 68-57 with about a minute and a half remaining with his second 3-pointer of the period. But Lincoln pulled away from there.
“We have two of the best defenders in the state and we locked (Jenkins) down,” Brown said.
No game between Lincoln and Wilson was decided by more than three points last year (Wilson’s 77-74 West Central District title win), with the Rams taking two of the three meetings. Lincoln’s win last year also came at Wilson.
And Lincoln is now starting to look like the deep, defensive stalwart Shelton envisioned it would be.
“We’re are starting to see it now, finally,” Shelton said. “But We’re still not there yet. We’re far from where we can be, which just makes me really excited. When we play hard and play tough defense we have a chance to beat anybody. When we start cleaning up some of our rotations, we will be pretty darn good.”
“We got a lot of guards and they can play and they share the ball and share the minutes. I love our balance and leadership right now.”
Lincoln 73, Wilson 59
Lincoln 14 25 20 14—73
Wilson 17 8 14 20—59
Lincoln: Hawkins 4, Tay. Brown 4, Dulaney, Linton, Simon 6, Cotton 15, Braggs 4, Peterson 1, Tre. Brown 22, Anderson 6, Johnson 7, Thomas 2, Bran. Brown 2.
Wilson: Brown-Lofton 7, Matthews 18, Fisher 2, Jenkins 25, Davis, Peterson 4, Ruebel-Harris, Kelly 3, Stokes A., Stokes N.