The Capital High School boys basketball team jetted to an early lead Saturday night at Saint Martin’s University in a Class 3A state regional game.
But Lincoln’s David Harris wasn’t having any of that.
Six minutes into the game — after the third-ranked Abes missed 11 of their first 13 shots — the senior fired off six consecutive points in 29 seconds to give Lincoln the lead.
The Abes never lost it, decisively topping Capital, 63-47, to earn a first-round bye in the state tournament next week at the Tacoma Dome.
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“We started off slow and couldn’t find the bucket there for a while,” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said. “But once we got rolling and started getting those, that was fun.”
Harris scored his first basket with 2:05 remaining in the first. From there Lincoln put on a shooting clinic, opening up a 28-6 run over the next 10 minutes.
The Abes entered halftime with a 37-19 lead.
“I think they got a little overwhelmed in the second quarter,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said. “Other than the second quarter, I thought we played toe-to-toe with them the other three quarters.
“But, you can’t have a quarter like that against a team of that caliber. You just can’t.”
That turned out to be the deciding factor. Capital rallied for an 11-2 run to end the third quarter, and traded shots with Lincoln throughout the fourth, but never trimmed the lead back to single digits.
“We tried our best, but they’re a really talented team,” Capital guard Matt Mickelson said. “There’s a reason they’re undefeated. Once you get down to those teams, it’s hard to get back in it.”
Trevante Anderson, who led Lincoln with 13 points, was one of 10 Abes to score in the game.
Willie Thomas (12 points), Harris (11) and Emmett Linton (10) all scored in double digits.
Luke Layton (10) led Capital, and Mickelson and Chris Penner each added nine.
Despite being without veteran point guard TJ Mickelson (broken collarbone), Capital’s sturdy defense impressed Shelton. The Cougars have won five of their last seven without Mickelson.
“You see why, even without (TJ) Mickelson, they were 5-1,” Shelton said. “They won three loser-out games in a row. They’re a tough, hard-nosed team.”
And Capital (22-4) will still play in the Tacoma Dome next week, in its first trip to the state tournament since 2009. The 3A South Sound Conference champions finished last in the 3A Narrows League a year ago.
“It’s a testament to how hard these kids have worked for the last year now,” Vandiver said. “These kids are kids of character. They could have easily folded in this game.
“They fought back. I thought we outplayed them at times in the second half.”
The Cougars play the winner of Wilson and Shadle Park at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“We definitely don’t want to be one-and-done,” Vandiver said. “We want to win Wednesday and be able to play Thursday and Friday and see what happens.”
This is the eighth straight season the Abes (25-0) have played in the state playoffs, but Lincoln hasn’t advanced past the quarterfinals since 2013, when it took third.
“We’ve got to take every game as it comes, no matter who we’re playing,” Anderson said. “Just make sure we play us. We’re not playing them, we’re playing us.
“As long as we stay to that statement, I think we’ll be fine.”
Lincoln will play the winner of Timberline and Seattle Prep at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.
“We get to go on Wednesday and see Seattle Prep and Timberline — two teams we’re very familiar with,” Shelton said. “We get to kick back and relax, and watch them battle it out, and get ready for the next day.”