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.