Emmitt Matthews Jr. – Wilson, Sr.
Willie Thomas III – Lincoln, Sr.
Emmett Linton III – Lincoln, Sr.
Demetrius Crosby – Foss, Sr.
Omari Maulana – Life Christian, Fr.
Davion Gaines – Stadium, So.
Daniel Santana – Wilson, Jr.
Le’Zjon Bonds – Lincoln, Sr.
Micah Pollard – Foss, Jr.
Charles Elzie – Bellarmine Prep, Jr.
PJ Talen – Tacoma Baptist, Sr.
Anthony Braggs – Lincoln, Sr.
Coach – Aubrey Shelton – Lincoln

Kondalia Montgomery – Lincoln, Sr.
Faith Brantley – Lincoln, Jr.
Shalyse Smith – Bellarmine Prep, Sr.
Hope Lalau – Wilson, Jr.
Sharayah Johnson – Lincoln, Fr.
Alea Yun – Life Christian, Jr.
Madeline Garcia – Bellarmine, Sr.
Julianna Walker – Annie Wright, Fr.
Azalee Johnson – Lincoln, Sr.
Reyelle Frazier – Bellarmine Prep, Jr.
A’shia Donahue – Lincoln, Sr.
Brooklyn Grant – Wilson, Jr.
Coach – Mark Lovelady – Life Christian

Bellarmine Prep senior Shalyse Smith will be taking her considerable talents to the University of Arizona next fall. Photo by Rocky Ross

It was another banner year for Tacoma high school basketball teams. While the hoopsters didn’t bring home as many state tournament trophies as in previous years, the level of play in the area’s gymnasiums was top notch. Several of Tacoma’s best basketball players were recognized at the state level, as well as earning college scholarships.

Let’s take a look back at how Tacoma’s teams did this season.

Without a doubt, the top team in the area was the boys team from Lincoln High School. Despite losing players to graduation, as well as an All-City guard transferring away, the Lincoln Abes didn’t seem to miss a beat following such a sensational season last year. With a host of All-City players graduating this season, there’s reason to believe that Lincoln head coach Aubrey Shelton will again weave a little magic and have his squad ready on opening night next fall. The Abes finished 26-2 on the season, captured the 3A Pierce County League championship and brought home the third-place trophy from the 3A state tournament.

Sure, the boys team was impressive at Lincoln, but the girls team was right there at the top as well. Lincoln head coach Jamila Jones led his girls to yet another 3A PCL title, as well as the West Central District championship. Most teams go through a little lull every season, and the Lady Abes were snake bit by an ill-timed one to close the season at the Tacoma Dome. Lincoln entered the 3A tournament as the top-seed in the Rankings Percentage Index standings, but couldn’t overcome a bout of cold shooting. The Lady Abes finished the season with a fantastic 24-3 record.

Wilson senior Emmitt Matthews Jr. was named the 3A State Basketball Player of the Year. Matthews will attend the University of Connecticut next year. Photo by Rocky Ross

The Bellarmine Lady Lions looked like a legitimate threat to challenge for the 4A state championship this season. While the eventual champions from Central Valley looked like one of the best squads in the history of this state, the Lady Lions were one of the best teams in the Puget Sound. After mowing through the 4A South Puget Sound League unscathed, Bellarmine made a run at the WCD district title, only to have their plans foiled by an ankle injury to Arizona-bound Shalyse Smith. Bellarmine finished the season 20-6 and made another trip to the Tacoma Dome.

One Tacoma team was trying hard to defend a state championship this season. The Foss Falcons were the defending 2A boys champions and looked like the frontrunner for much of the season. As a matter of fact, the Falcons didn’t lose to a 2A foe for nearly two entire seasons, before a minor setback in the 2A WCD semifinals. Foss finished the season 21-6 and brought home the sixth-place trophy from Yakima. The Falcons had two chances to tie the game in the final eight seconds of the state semifinals, but neither shot would fall.

The Wilson boys were a team hell-bent on surprising fans and foes alike. The Rams made short work of an outstanding Spanaway Lake squad twice this season, and put Lincoln to the test in both of their meetings. The Rams found themselves just a couple of baskets down, late against Rainier Beach in the 3A state quarterfinals, but couldn’t maintain the swing in momentum to finish the Vikings and meet the Abes in the state semifinals. Wilson finished the season with an impressive 21-8 record, with all eight losses coming against state-bound 3A and 4A teams.

After 25 years and 400-plus victories at Life Christian, Mark Lovelady is heading south. Photo by Rocky Ross

It was quite the year over at Life Christian. The boys were looking to continue their streak of league titles and quality trophies from the 2B state tournament with several new faces on the roster. Again, the Eagles proved themselves to be the top dogs in the 2B Pacific League, despite injuries to a couple of starters. Meanwhile, the girls team suddenly needed a new coach. Without much time for a search, boys’ head coach Mark Lovelady decided to roll the dice and took over at the helm for the girls. That is no typo. Lovelady coached two varsity programs and led each to the state tournament in Spokane. While the two squads fell short in the state trophies category, the double-dip by Lovelady goes well with his 400-plus career victories.

After 25 years at Life Christian, Lovelady will be heading south this summer to take over as principal at Gilbert Christian High School in Arizona. Last month, Lovelady was the recipient of the Frosty Westering Excellence in Coaching Award from the Tacoma Athletic Commission.

One of the biggest surprises this season was delivered by the boys from Tacoma Baptist. The Crusaders seemed to get better every single week on their way to the Sea-Tac 1B West Division title. When the team hit the post-season, they were peaking at just the right time and nearly captured the 2B Tri-District championship. Tacoma Baptist (24-7) didn’t take their trip to Spokane lightly and won two of four games to earn the sixth-place trophy.

The Bellarmine boys fought and scratched their way through a tough season and earned a berth into the 4A state regional round. The Lions weren’t done any favors when they had to travel to Spokane on a Friday night and fell to Lewis & Clark, who finished third at the 4A state tournament. The Lions (15-11) have some serious talent returning next season. Stay tuned.

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