The Columbia River boys basketball team never led Friday night, but they never let Lincoln of Tacoma get comfortable, either.
Lincoln ended up winning the Class 3A bi-district quarterfinal game 54-45, but running up and down the Hudson’s Bay High School court for 32 minutes wasn’t the only reason its players were sweating.
The Abes jumped on River in the first half, stifling the Chieftains with their quickness and taking a 26-15 lead into halftime.
Isaiah Smith and Rian Bassett were the only two River players to score points before the third quarter, as the Chieftains looked shell-shocked by their opponent’s physical ability.
“We haven’t faced a team that athletic this year,” River coach David Long said. “We were the most athletic team in our league, but we haven’t played a team with their size and their speed. We just couldn’t execute in the first half.”
But the second half began much more auspiciously for River (18-4).
Bassett, who finished with 12 points, knocked down a 3-pointer on the Chieftains’ opening possession of the third quarter to cut the lead to eight. With a couple minutes left in the fourth quarter, the deficit was down to three.
The offense began to center around the 6-foot-7 Smith, who finished with a game-high 19 points. Chad Love would add 11 points for River ... but his team would get no closer.
Transition buckets and free throws down the stretch allowed Lincoln to maintain its advantage.
Long, while admitting games cannot be won from beyond the 3-point arc, lamented that his team did not shoot as well as it usually does from outside.
He adds that missed opportunities from inside also may have cost his team a chance to take the lead.
Saturday, River will meet Foss at Franklin Pierce High in Tacoma. The Chieftains must win to keep their state hopes alive.
LINCOLN 54, COLUMBIA RIVER 45
LINCOLN —Williams 5, Moore 4, Lexing 10, Holliday 11, Harsh 10, Davis 9. Totals N/A.
COLUMBIA RIVER — Devin Bolds 3, Eli Evenson 0, Bryan Wyche 0, Rian Bassett 12, Jon Hanberg 0, Chad Love 11, Mack Stromme 0, Isaiah Smith 19. Totals 18 (2) 7 FTs 45.
Lincoln 10 16 13 15—54
Columbia River 5 10 16 14—45