Quiet as a mouse, Brandon Cotton sat on the Lincoln boys basketball bench.
And loud as a lion, the newcomer hit the biggest field goal of his career — and of the Abes’ season.
In a game that was everything a city championship should be, Cotton helped ninth-ranked Lincoln finally put away No. 10 Wilson, 56-51.
After David Jenkins Jr. and the Rams rallied from a 13-point deficit to grab a 51-49 lead on Emmitt Matthews Jr.’s putback basket with 35 seconds remaining, the Abes set up a few options for their outside shooters.
One of them was Cotton, who at this time last season was leading Franklin Pierce into 2A SPSL contention as a first-team guard.
Cotton had sat much of the fourth quarter Tuesday night before Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton finally motioned for him to get into the game.
“I will always wait my turn,” Cotton said. “And my turn came in the final seconds.”
With many thinking Trevion Brown could get the decisive shot, the ball instead rotated to Cotton in the right corner, and his shot hit nothing but net with 17 seconds to go to give the Abes (16-3, 13-0) a 52-51 lead.
“Honestly, it was terrible coaching I didn’t get him in sooner,” Shelton said. “He went from being the best player at Franklin Pierce to one of the many guys who can get it done here. And he has the best attitude.”
After a Wilson timeout, the Rams (15-4, 11-2) got the ball to Montre Brown-Lofton, who appeared to get tangled with a Lincoln defender, hit the ground and was called for a traveling violation.
Cotton sank two free throws with five seconds to go for a 54-51 Lincoln lead.
Given one final chance to tie the game, Jenkins lost the ball to Lincoln’s Dionte Simon in the backcourt, who then made a jumper at the buzzer.
Simon — the only player in school history to start on four consecutive 3A Narrows League title-winning squads — also forced Jenkins, the league’s best scorer, into a pair of offensive fouls in the fourth quarter.
Jenkins, however, was the sole reason the Rams had a chance to win the ballgame. They trailed 42-29 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Matthews was on the bench in foul trouble.
Jenkins scored eight points in the final 1:21 of the quarter, including a 3-pointer and a nifty three-point play.
He also had a four-point possession early in the fourth quarter, and he hit a deep 3-pointer from the top of the arc to tie the game at 47-all with 4:31 to go.
“It is tough when they send two or three guys (at me), but at the same time, when you are down 13 points, you have to get the bucket anyways,” said Jenkins, who finished with a game-high 31 points on 8-of-18 shooting.
“Like I told my teammates, we don’t ever lose. We either win or we learn.”
And the Rans learned to treat Cotton — Jenkins’ cousin — like a big-time shooter.
“He made a big-time shot,” Jenkins said. “He will be talking about it all day and all night.”
If the Abes win Thursday night at home against Mount Tahoma, they will be the first school to sweep 3A Narrows play since Wilson did it in 2011-12.