FIRST REPORT, 3:01 PM: A fourth-quarter comeback just won the West Seattle High School boys third place at the state 3A basketball championships – they beat Lincoln 66-54, as head coach Keffrey Fazio‘s team battled back from a 14-point deficit at halftime. Photos and details to come!
ADDED 8:48 PM: The magnitude of the comeback had to have alleviated a little of the sting from the buzzer-basket loss the night before.
This game moved much faster, though the Wildcats were not at their best in the early going. Lincoln roared out in the person of #22, senior David Harris, who scored the Abes’ first seven points, taking them out to a 7-4 lead that became 10-4 with a three-pointer by #3 junior Le’Zjon Bonds. West Seattle was behind on the boards too (though they eventually outrebounded 25-15 for the game).
While unable to claw to the lead, WSHS kept up the pressure. #22 Yusuf Mohamed, their leading rebounder (9) and second-leading scorer (17) for the day, grabbed away the ball and ran it down for a dunk with 3:40 to go in the first, 14-6 Lincoln. When the starters didn’t seem to be able to break through, reserves got a try. The Abes didn’t pull back at all, though, and had a 15-point lead just before the quarter ended, cut to 13 by a basket from #1, senior Nate Pryor, the day’s leading scorer with 20 points.
Second quarter started at Lincoln 25, WSHS 12. It played out much the same as the first. WSHS’s outside shooting was a bit chilly, and even when followed by rebounds and inside tries, they didn’t always go in. More foul shots, since Lincoln racked up enough fouls to put WSHS into the bonus situation before the half was done. The Wildcats nibbled away at the Abes’ lead here and there, but every time they did, Lincoln recovered, including a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter that put the halftime score at Lincoln 40, WSHS 26.
Once everybody got back on the floor, #24 Simon Harris was first to score for WSHS, about half a minute in, and it was 40-28. But then, Bonds got a 3-pointer (he had three for the afternoon) and it was a 15-point gap again.
At 5:31, the Wildcats intensified with dunks by #5, Abdullahi Mohamed, and Y. Mohamed, bringing them to within eight, 43-35. The Abes refused to yield, but West Seattle fought back hard enough that a basket by #23 Anthony Giomi at 2:36 to go in the third quarter got them back within single digits.
A foul shot and basket by Pryor made it 47-42 a minute later. WSHS held that margin for the end of the third quarter, behind five, 51-46.
The now-or-never fourth quarter opened with a Wildcat roar, a 3-pointer by #3 Tyler Lenzie.
Suddenly they were only two back. And at 5:48 to go in the game, a Pryor 3-pointer tied it up, 52-52.
That was the turning point. A foul shot by Pryor seconds later put West Seattle in the lead, 53-52. Lincoln started to make mistakes, like a traveling violation. The fans and the bench were energized as well as the players on the court:
One of West Seattle’s trademark passarounds – which had ended badly a few times earlier – worked, and A. Mohamed’s bucket made it a three-point lead. From there, they never looked back. It seemed clear they had grabbed hold of the potential victory and just weren’t going to let it go. The final minutes were peppered by fouls, mostly Lincoln’s, and the WSHS lead built steadily, eight points with less than 2 minutes left. At 1:07, West Seattle was ahead by nine, 61-52, but you can’t take anything for granted in basketball, so the intensity level remained high. With :42 to go, Pryor pushed in a decisive one-hander.
And as the announcer put it, shortly thereafter, the cast on the court included “a host of substitutes from both teams.” And this time, there was no question – it was a Wildcat win, 66-54, third in the state, the school’s best finish ever.