With a gym bag over his shoulder, and his heart rate back to normal, Lincoln point guard Ahmaad Rorie took one last look up into the rafters at Foss High School.
Just 15 minutes prior, the upper level was packed to the brim, ready to burst as the Narrows 3A boys’ basketball showdown between the second-ranked Abes and No. 6 Foss went down to the wire.
Rorie and Tre’Shaun Fletcher, the Abes’ stars, each made two free throws in the final 20 seconds, and Lincoln survived a classic thriller, 74-73 – all while Falcons’ guard Dezmyn Trent wowed the packed house with his game-high 41 points Wednesday night.
When asked to assess the magnitude of the matchup – in hype and the way it played out for 32 minutes – Rorie did not hesitate with an answer.
“Ten out of 10,” he said.
And he was right on.
The few times the Abes threatened to race out to a big lead early, Foss eventually reeled them in heading to the final quarter.
The lead changed hands seven times in the fourth quarter. Each time Trent would sink a clutch 3-pointer, or inside runner for Foss, Rorie (24 points on 7-for-16 shooting), Fletcher (21 points), Ar’Mond Davis (13 points, three 3-pointers), even Latravion Satterwhite (10 points) answered.
But Foss put together its best run – an 11-3 scoring spurt over a 21/2-minute stretch – to grab a 67-62 lead with 4:13 to go.
The next time down, Davis caught a pass in the left corner for Lincoln and drained a 3-pointer in what was arguably the biggest field goal in the game.
“That was a huge 3,” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said.
And after a midcourt Foss turnover, the Abes went streaking the other way, and Fletcher muscled his way inside for a bucket and was fouled. He converted the three-point play.
In the span of 12 seconds, the Abes went from trailing to leading once again, 68-67.
“We made winning plays down the stretch,” Shelton said.
Trent gave Foss its final advantage, 69-68, with a basket at the 1:58 mark – the team’s final field goal. But the attacking Abes behind Rorie got to the free-throw line.
Rorie made all four of his attempts in the final 1:38 – the second pair coming with 19.9 seconds remaining to give Lincoln a 72-69 lead.
“At the beginning of the season, I got off to a bad start with free throws,” Rorie said. “Now I have just been trying to take my time, and shoot the same way every time.”
As fantastic as Trent was scoring 41 points on 14-of-25 shooting, and grabbing 12 rebounds, he did miss a one-and-one free throw that would have tied the game – or even given his team another lead.
“My free throws lately are not where they need to be,” said Trent, almost apologetically.
Which almost sounded humorous considering what the 6-foot-4 standout, and league’s leading scorer gave his team the whole night.
“I do not want to start a war or whatever, but he is the best kid in Tacoma, in my opinion,” Foss coach Mike Cocke said. “I know Rorie is a great player, and Tre (Fletcher) is a great player … but just for him to will his team to that point, I can’t ask for anything else. He has the most unbelievable heart of any kid I have coached.”
In the end, the Abes’ big three (or four) outdueled the super-human effort of Trent to give Lincoln a two-game lead over Foss with three games remaining.
“Credit them, they did a good job of making plays at the end of the game,” Cocke said. “We missed free throws, and a couple of 50-50 balls that they beat us to, and it ended up being our demise.”