With the new Narrows League 4A and 3A basketball action being so riveting this season, question marks abounded going into West Central District play. When all was said and done after the week-long tournament, the overlapping of both the 3A and 4A classifications proved to be a success with a high level of play in both the boys and girls brackets, with Tacoma schools advancing five of the eight teams that were entered.
Here’s the recap:
When you talk basketball in the city of Tacoma, Lincoln is where you start. With three state titles and countless district and league titles to their credit, the Abes added another banner. They claimed their third district title in four years on Feb. 21, derailing Decatur in the 3A final by a score of 79 to 53 in a game that was never close as the Abes jumped out to a 18 to six lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
“We avoided a letdown after the Lakes game (which the Abes won 63-54 on Feb. 19),” said coach Aubrey Shelton, who was part of two state titles as a player himself.
“The kids were really ready to go today.”
Balanced scoring as well as 94 feet of pressure was the staple of Lincoln’s success as it has been all season with four Abes scoring in double figures, led by the 15 points from Jordan Russell and Geno Horsley, 13 from Issac Barsh and 12 from Terrell Lewis.
“What can you say about Jordan Russell?” Shelton said about his multi-talented guard who had led the Abes to those last three district titles. “He will go down as one of the best guards to ever play in Tacoma and Lincoln High School history.”
With the new state regional play coming into effect this year, four teams will play in one neutral site with two advancing to state play from each of the four sites. With Lincoln drawing number one O’Dea in the winner-in first game, the road will be tough.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Shelton said, referring to the tough semifinal win against Lakes. Don’t bet against them.
The road did not turn out to be as rosy for the boys teams from Bellarmine, Mt. Tahoma and Wilson. After a 65-56 home court win over Federal Way on Feb. 16 in the 4A first round, the Lions lost a heart breaker to Puyallup 75-70 on Feb. 18 and were eliminated by Kentridge 77-59 on Feb. 19, with Gonzaga-bound Gary Bell scoring 47 for the Chargers.
The Thunderbirds traveled a similar route. They beat Rogers in their opening-round home game by a score 62-51 before falling to #4 Curtis and Washington State-bound DeVonte Lacy 77-63 on Feb. 18.
Wilson just simply could not get on track at any time losing to Mt. View of Vancouver 64-58 in the opener and exiting the tournament in their next game 67-62 to Camas. Finishing with a mark of 17-5 was no small feat after their sixth-place finish at state last year and losing all but one player with any varsity experience off that team.
“I’m real proud of these guys for the effort that they gave this year. With all the losses off of last year’s team, it was a great year,” third-year Wilson coach Dave Alwert remarked.
The Foss Falcons were carrying a heavy load this year. With a young team and the possibility of the school closing this year, the Falcons finished third in the Narrows 3A and parlayed that into a fourth-place finish at district after falling to Decatur 69-64 on Feb. 19. They will be in the same neutral court site with Lincoln, O’Dea, and Chief Sealth, with two of the teams advancing to Tacoma Dome.
Winning the first two games at district, 68-49 over Bremerton on Feb. 16 and 63-46 over Hudson’s Bay on Feb. 18, put the young and talented Falcons within two games of reaching Tacoma Dome. Don’t put it past Marcus Chambers and Dezmyn Trent to lead this team to state. They have been beating the odds all year long.