OLYMPIA - No matter how many times Capital made a run to close the gap, Lincoln always had an answer.
The visiting Abes, ranked third in Class 3A, had scoring bursts at the right times Wednesday night, and came away with a 68-63 victory over Capital to remain unbeaten in the Narrows League.
Still, there were positives coming out of the Cougars’ locker room after a loss to the Narrows-leading Abes, who were coming off a 77-60 win over 4A No. 4-ranked Jackson at the King Holiday Hoopfest on Monday.
“We know we can play with anyone now,” said Capital guard Alex Smith, who finished with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. “If we got a couple loose balls ... and a few free throws, we’d win.”
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Capital guard Colin Bossio led all scorers with 19 points and was one of four Cougars in double figures – Smith’s 17, as well as 10 apiece from Jay Maiava and Luke Olson.
The Abes’ scoring binges were well-timed – an 8-2 run in the second quarter, an 11-0 spurt in the third quarter, and a 14-2 surge to begin the fourth quarter. Capital (10-4 overall, 2-2 Narrows 3A) was down 49-45 heading into the fourth quarter, but Lincoln ran off to its largest lead after Tre’Shawn Lexing’s putback put the Abes up 62-47 with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play.
But Cougars countered with another run of their own and slashed the lead to 65-61 after Smith hit two free throws. But the Cougars couldn’t get closer.
Terrell Lewis had a team-high 16 points for Lincoln (13-1, 4-0), and Lexing added 15.
“If we hit a few more free throws, it changes the game,” Capital coach Doug Galloway said.
Indeed, free-throw shooting was a big difference-maker. The Abes went 21 of 27 from the free-throw line compared with Capital’s 8-for-15.
In the first half, Lincoln led by as many as 11 – 31-20 – with 2:25 left in the second quarter. But behind Olson’s seven points, the Cougars ran off a 14-3 finish to the quarter to tie the game 34-34 at halftime.
“We played a good basketball game,” Galloway said. “I’m pretty proud overall. The kids battled.”