The Lincoln Lady Abes could not have played Timberline any closer this season. In a battle for second place in the Narrows 3A, the Abes suffered their second one-point defeat to the Blazers this year, falling 54-53 at home on Jan. 18.
Senior guard Sarah McKee led the way for Timberline, scoring 24 of her game-high 29 points in the second half and nailing six of the Blazers’ eight three-pointers on the night.
“She is a player,” said Lincoln head coach Cal-Jean Lloyd. “They all have the ability, when left open, to make shots. That’s no knock on them. I think it’s more a testimony to our lack of rotating as hard as we need to (on defense).”
The Abes went up 11-6 on Precious Hunkin’s put-back early in the second quarter, but McKee’s first trey of the night gave the Blazers their first lead at 13-11 with six minutes left in the half. Ki-Renee Armstrong – who hit four three-pointers on the night for Lincoln and finished with 15 points – answered with a three for the Abes, but the Blazers’ Sara Bowen nailed two threes of her own later in the quarter to help give Timberline a 25-20 halftime lead.
McKee then exploded in the third quarter, hitting four threes in just over two minutes, the last of which gave Timberline a 37-27 lead with five minutes to go in the period. But the Abes crawled right back, as Hunkin got a nice pass from Kayla McClean for a layup with a minute left and Armstrong drained another three to cut it to 40-38 heading into the fourth. Freshman Tamia Braggs then gave the Abes their first lead of the half at 41-40 by battling for a rebound and converting a three-point play, which set the tone for a back-and-forth final quarter.
After Lincoln took a 45-43 lead on Breneya Johnson’s layup with under four minutes left, the Blazers rattled off the next seven points, capped by McKee’s final three-pointer with two minutes left. Armstrong responded again with another three for the Abes, and her trey with 18 seconds left cut it to 52-51.
“She has that want and desire for us as a program to move forward,” Lloyd said. “That’s senior leadership right there. We look at her to be one of those leaders, and tonight she kind of helped will us back into this game a little bit.”
But McKee hit two free throws on the other end for a three-point lead, and the chance for a tying three for Lincoln rattled out and was put back in on Braggs’ layup to leave the Abes one point short.
Hunkin had a team-high 17 points for Lincoln, while Braggs added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Johnson had six points and seven rebounds. At 4-3 in league play, Lincoln is still in good position for one of the four spots to the playoffs.
“I’m proud of the improvements we’ve made this year, and the toughness we’ve started to develop as a program,” Lloyd said. “We’re going to be alright. It’s a tough one tonight, but we’ll get back at it tomorrow.”