The Sideline

Lady Abes let late lead slip away

With a win in their sights in their first district playoff game in six years, the Lincoln Lady Abes surrendered a 12-point lead in the final four minutes to fall 62-57 to Kelso tonight at Clover Park High School.

The Abes took a 56-44 lead on Tamia Braggs' layup midway through the fourth, completing a 16-3 run. But the Highlanders quickly responded, outscoring the Abes 18-3 down the stretch by applying tough pressure defense. Kelso tied it on Brianna Salberg’s layup with 1:20 remaining, and Kailynn Rae nailed a three-pointer less than a minute later to put the Highlanders ahead for good.

After trailing 16-8 at the end of the first quarter, the Abes outscored Kelso 17-16 in the second quarter to trail 32-25 at the break. Braggs - who led Lincoln with 25 points - had seven points in the period, and Ki-Renee Armstrong helped cut the deficit to 30-25 with a three-point play shortly before the break.

Precious Hunkin helped the Abes keep pace early in the third quarter, and Armstrong fired a nice pass to Braggs for an easy layup midway through the quarter to give Lincoln its first lead at 35-34. The lead changed hands a few more times, but Armstrong – who finished with 13 points – nailed a three with two seconds left to put Lincoln up 45-41 heading into the fourth. Armstrong added another three early in the final period to give the Abes a 54-44 lead.

But turnovers began to spell trouble for the Abes, as Rae – who tied Taylor Flick with a team-high 13 points – and Salberg quickly brought Kelso back in the game.

Hunkin finished with eight points for the Abes, while Breneya Johnson added three points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

District hoops starts tonight

The basketball postseason begins for local squads tonight, as the girls bi-districts begin around the region. Here’s a schedule of the matchups for the local Tacoma squads, and where they are playing. Check back here tonight for blog updates on some of the games!

Rogers @ Bellarmine Prep – 7 p.m.

Lincoln vs. Kelso @ Clover Park High School – 6 p.m.

Mount Tahoma vs. Kennedy Catholic @ Franklin Pierce High School – 7:45 p.m.

Tacoma Baptist @ La Conner – 7 p.m.

Fife vs. Olympic @ Lakes High School – 6 p.m.

Franklin Pierce vs. North Kitsap @ Lakes High School – 7:45 p.m.

Looking to cut down the nets after a league championship on their home court – as their boys squad had done two days earlier – the Bellarmine Prep Lady Lions fell victim to cold shooting and the red-hot performance of Yelm’s McKaiela Tyler. The Tornadoes’ junior wing came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points, including four three-pointers in the first half, to lead Yelm to a 54-45 win tonight to claim the Narrows 4A title.

“That’s not usual,” said Lions head coach Kevin Meines of Tyler’s performance off the bench. “But you’ve got to respect everybody, too. We can’t relax on certain players and play hard on other players. It’s a learning experience for our girls.”

The Lions shot out to a 9-2 lead on Ionna Price’s three-pointer with two minutes left in the first quarter, but Tyler answered with two treys of her own to cut it to 10-8. She added another three early in the second to give the Tornadoes an 11-10 lead. Price regained an 18-14 lead with another three and a tough turnaround jumper, but Tyler later hit her fourth three, and gave Yelm a 24-22 at the half with a layup with 17 seconds remaining.

The Tornadoes took control early in the second half with a 14-0 run to make it 38-24, as Anushka Maldonado scored seven points during the stretch. The Lions’ offense, meanwhile, looked flustered as they rushed shots on offense and succumbed to the Tornadoes pressure defense.

“We missed a lot of shots we normally hit,” said Meines. “They played good defense. They’re fundamentally sound. They’re always there. We had to fight for everything we got.”

But the Lions immediately responded with a 10-0 run of their own, as Claire Martin hit two early shots in the fourth quarter and Jayana Ervin – who led the Lions with 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench – hit a layup to cut it to 38-36 with five minutes left.

But that’s as close as the Lions would get, as Yelm hit a couple of key layups and was able to salt away the game at the free-throw line.

“I was proud of our kids,” said Meines of the comeback effort. “They fought. We’ve been preaching that all year. When they compete, and when they fight they’re a tough team to beat. It’s when we relax and go through those two or three-minute stretches where we let them gain momentum that we don’t have anything to answer that.”

Price and Jasmyne Holmes finished with eight points for the Lions, while Maldonado had 11 points for the Tornadoes. Bellarmine claimed the second seed to the district tournament, getting a home game next Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's game between Kentridge and Rogers.

Rams continue late-season surge, top Foss

Ivy Smith led all Wilson scorers with 16 points and Alphonso Anderson recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Wilson Rams defeated their second consecutive top-ten 3A team, the Foss Falcons, by a score of 63-56 tonight at home.

Dezmyn Trent was held well under his 28 points-per-game average, scoring 18 as the harassing Rams’ defense made him work hard on both ends of the court. Noah Hunthausen would add 13 points, while Jericho Ballard contributed 11 points for the Falcons.

The game nearly followed the same script as the Rams’ win at Lincoln last Friday night, with Wilson falling behind by double digits, this time in the second half at 50-40. But the young, giant-killing team from the north side of Tacoma brought it all the way back.

A key moment in the game came when Trent picked up his fourth foul with 2:35 left in the third quarter, and the Falcons were all of a sudden playing back on their heels as the Ram defense held them to a mere eight points in the fourth quarter.

The Rams finish their season at 12-9 overall, with a 6-6 record in league play as they await the game on Wednesday when Mount Tahoma visits Lincoln. A Mount Tahoma loss would mean a one game playoff between the Thunderbirds and Rams at a neutral site to determine the fourth seed to the 3A West Central District next week.

Trailing 45-39 to Olympia with less than two minutes remaining, Bellarmine Prep rallied to send the game to overtime on Lucas Meikle’s three-pointer with three seconds remaining. The Lions then dominated the extra period, winning 59-54 to claim back-to-back league titles for the first time in 45 years.

Isaiah Flynn had nailed two three-pointers in 20 seconds to pull the Lions within 47-45 with 53 seconds left. After Olympia later extended it to 48-45 with a free throw, Flynn looked to provide more heroics, but his three was off target. The ball then came to Carson Hollyoak, who also missed from three. But Mar’kese Jackson corraled the rebound and sent it to Meikle, who nailed the three in front of the Lions’ bench – and was fouled in the process. Despite missing the potential game-winning free throw, the Lions had stolen the momentum.

Hollyoak came up big for the Lions in overtime, hitting a three-pointer to make it 51-48 with three minutes left, dishing to Flynn for an easy layup on the next possession and then collecting a steal on Olympia’s ensuing possession. Meikle added two free throws to make it 55-48 with 47 seconds left, essentially sealing it for the Lions.

Olympia had gotten off to a hot start in the game, jumping out to an 18-10 lead midway through the second quarter. But Jackson provided a spark off the bench, getting a steal and a layup and later nailing a three-pointer to help the Lions cut it to 22-19 at the half.

The third quarter was back and forth, as Flynn’s three-pointer gave the Lions a 30-28 lead with two minutes left in the period before Olympia tied it 32-32 on a goaltend heading into the fourth. The Bears shot out to a six-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Meikle answered with a driving jumper after being fouled. He converted the resulting free throw to cut it to 42-39, but the Lions were then held scoreless for three minutes as the Bears again to a six-point advantage. That’s when Flynn hit the first of his clutch threes, leading to the late heroics.

Meikle led the Lions with 23 points, while Flynn added 18 points and Jackson had nine points and four steals. Michael Naipo had 11 points for Olympia, while Brendan Leonard added 10 points for the Bears.

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