The last play – a game-saving one at that – will go down as a Tre’Shaun Fletcher block to preserve third-ranked Lincoln High’s 52-51 victory over Timberline to give the Abes their first Class 3A West Central District boys’ basketball crown.
But before Blazers’ point guard Brandell Evans got his shot rejected in the lane, a design to get a pass to star Donaven Dorsey was called in a timeout. Evans had a clear lane, but with Abes’ ninth grader Dionte Simon in his way, he lost control of his dribble.
In essence, the play was blown up right then.
“Got to give a lot of props to our freshman,” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said.
So who is this Simon character, anyway? He is the guy teammates call “Dad” because he is built like a grown man.
“He looks like he is 35,” Shelton said.
Simon went to Baker Middle School last year, lives in the east side of Tacoma – and won the starting point guard job (although he does share it with star Ahmaad Rorie at times) in the summer.
“He got after it from day one,” Shelton said.
Yet, he has incurred newcomer struggles, particularly with ball-handling chores in the pressure-oriented Narrows 3A League.
“I’ve had help,” Simon said. “In the early season, when I was down and making freshman mistakes, I was picked up. It really helped boost my confidence. I love these guys. I don’t know where I would be without these guys – Tre, Ahmaad, they talk to me a lot.”
Just in the past month, Simon has really become one of the Abes’ reliable performers. He is averaging five assists per game in his past 10 games. And in team meetings, when conflict arises, he is one to usually speak up.
“I want the best for these guys,” Simon said. “If they are doing something wrong, I will call them out.”
There is a joke going around the Lincoln bench pertaining to Simon’s uncanny leadership. Assistant coach Brason Alexander has told Shelton by the time the teenager is a junior and senior, he won’t have to coach anymore.
Yet, as good as he is in basketball, he is an even better football player. He is a running back for Jon Kitna’s squad wit the Abes.