Playoff time has arrived for Tacoma hoopsters

Lincoln senior guard Emmett Linton has been the leader on a team full of leaders. While several players have stepped up big for the Abes this season, Linton has answered the bell consistently. Photo by Rocky Ross

When it comes to winning league championships in recent years, nobody in Tacoma touches the string of trophies earned by the Lincoln Abes’ boys basketball team. Sure, their undefeated record is quite impressive, but right now we’re going to shine a quick spotlight on what is one of the more incredible runs in a town that prides itself on being a basketball city.

After an improbable 71-69 comeback victory over Spanaway Lake on Friday, Jan. 26, the Abes secured their sixth consecutive league championship.

Okay, the comeback win wasn’t really that improbable by this group of young men. They’ve shown their heart and resiliency throughout their schedule, and now as the regular season has nearly reached its conclusion, the Abes are showing that they have plenty of guts and grit in reserve.

For a team that has a legitimate shot at making a run at the 3A state championship, there’s no such thing as having enough grit. As a matter of fact, it’s going to take a remarkable team to overcome the squads from Seattle’s Metro League, as is the case pretty much each and every season.

Lincoln senior Willie Thomas III has become a force inside and in transition for the Abes. Photo by Rocky Ross

Currently, the Abes are ranked at the top of the 3A RPI standings. While newspaper polls are always fun to keep track of, they really mean nothing in the end. It’s all about the RPI standings now. When the district tournaments and regionals come to their conclusion, the RPI rankings will go through one last calculation to set the seeding for the various tournament fields. For the 19-0 Abes, hovering anywhere around the top spot is not only a proper reward for their exceptional work, but it also gives them a shot at earning a bye in the first round of the 3A Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.

Of course, Lincoln is going to have to make their way through the West Central District tournament as one of the district’s six seeds to the regional tournament. A couple of losses could bounce any team from the district tournament and dash any hopes of a state title run. This is the case for not only Lincoln, but every team entering postseason play.

The Wilson Rams (16-3) secured the second seed out of the 3A Pierce County League with a 70-65 victory over Spanaway Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The victory has pushed Wilson up to seventh in the RPI standings. If you look at the three Ram losses this season, it’s quite an eyebrow raiser. The Rams have dropped two games to the 3A top RPI Abes, and lost against the top team in the 4A RPI standings.

Lincoln senior Anthony Braggs Jr. has put his athleticism to good work this season helping the Abes to an 18-0 record. Photo by Rocky Ross

These Rams have what it takes to not only make some serious noise in the district tournament, but they could go ahead and win it without anyone in the know batting an eye. They are dangerous and very good. While the state tournament is still a month away, Wilson is an easy choice as the dark horse favorite to shock the entire field.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely dreamy to see an all-Tacoma final for the 3A championship? It’s not as far-fetched as one may think. Stay tuned in on these two basketball teams.

On the other side of the coin, the Lincoln Lady Abes have also claimed another 3A PCL title. The 18-1 Lady Abes are playing their best basketball of the season right now, and it may be the perfect time to begin peaking for this squad. After Lincoln crushed previously 17-1 Bethel by a score of 46-25 on Tuesday, Jan. 30, the league title belonged to the Lady Abes.

The victory also gave head coach Jamila Jones his 99th career victory at Lincoln High School. The Lady Abes will look to secure his 100th when they travel to face the Lakes Lancers on Thursday, Feb. 1, for a 7 p.m. showdown. Lincoln is currently ranked third in the 3A RPI standings.

The Bellarmine Prep Lady Lions (16-3) have won the 4A South Puget Sound League championship. Their 59-48 win over Sumner on Tuesday, Jan. 30, moved the Lady Lions up to sixth in the 4A RPI standings. This team still looks every bit as dangerous as the squad that finished third at last year’s state tournament. Any team that snoozes on Bellarmine is going to be in for a bad time.

As usual, the Foss boys’ squad (16-3) captured another 2A SPSL Mountain Division title. The Falcons will host Renton on Friday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. Renton (18-2) won the 2A SPSL Sound Division title, so the matchup is for the outright 2A SPSL championship. Foss is up to sixth in the 2A RPI standings, while Renton sits at 12th. The Fife Trojans (17-3) are sitting in 10th position.

On the small side, the Life Christian boys (17-2) have won another 2B Pacific title and sit at sixth in the RPI standings. Not to be outdone, the Life Christian girls (13-2) are currently 10th in the standings, and look like a strong contender to make it to Spokane for the 2B Hardwood Classic. It could be quite the deal if both squads can make it to the big dance, as Mark Lovelady is now coaching both the boys’ and girls’ squads this season.

The Tacoma Baptist boys have picked up where the Crusader girls’ team left off last season. With their 47-38 victory over Mt. Rainier Lutheran on Tuesday, Jan. 30, the Crusaders (17-2) won the Sea-Tac League West Division and will host a district seeding game on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m.

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