For Lincoln High, the mission was simple – return the favor.
“We had to get a little payback,” Abes junior guard Tre’Shaun Lexing said.
After falling to Foss at home three weeks ago, Lincoln beat the Falcons 64-55 in a key Narrows League 3A boys basketball contest Friday night.
“We wanted this, Foss is our biggest rival in the city,” Abes coach Aubrey Shelton said. “(Last time) Foss kind of embarrassed us because we played so flat and weren’t ready to go and they outworked us.”
Winning did more than exact revenge for Lincoln.
Had the Abes (5-1 league, 14-3 overall) lost to Foss again, a third straight league title likely would have been out of their grasp.
“This was basically our league championship,” Shelton said. “If we lose this game, we’re not winning league. Foss would have the tiebreaker on us and they’d have to lose two games for us to win league and I don’t see them losing two games. This was to protect or league championship, to defend our three-peat.”
Twice Lincoln surged ahead to double-digit leads against Foss, the latest a 41-31 lead in the third quarter. Each time the Falcons (3-2, 11-3) reeled in the Abes. Jericho Ballard’s 3-pointer pulled Foss even with Lincoln, 46-46, early in the fourth.
The Abes didn’t let the Falcons take the lead.
Isaac Barsh and Tre’Shaun Lexing combined to the score Lincoln’s next 14 points, building a 60-55 advantage with less than a minute to play.
“Isaac took over and TreShaun, I don’t know what you can say,” Shelton said. “He’s the best player around when the ball is in his hands.”
Lexing led Lincoln with 20 points, Barsh had 19 and sophomore guard Armond Davis finished with 14, burying three 3-pointers.
Forward Dezmyn Trent scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half for Foss (3-2, 11-3).
Since missing most of last week because of the snowstorm, Lincoln has been on a tear. The Abes routed Capital 60-33 on Monday and thumped Yelm 67-29 on Wednesday.
Shelton believes his team is playing its best basketball of the season.
“This week has been our best week of basketball of the year,” Shelton said. “The whole first two months, even when we were winning games, like up at the Franklin tournament, we weren’t playing well. We’d have a good quarter or two, but we weren’t consistent. I don’t know if it was the snow or what. Guys had some time off and came back ready to go.”
Lincoln has another pivotal contest on Monday when it hosts league-leading Wilson.
“Big game,” Lexing said, “that’s for first place. Real big game.”