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TACOMA - The No. 5 Lincoln Abes had every reason to fall back Tuesday.

They are an extremely young group to big-game moments, especially as chief playmakers. And they were without coach Jamila Jones, who was home in COVID-19 quarantine protocol.

And when Bonney Lake made a brash bounceback to tie the game late in the third quarter, the Abes looked a little wobbly.


A big-time answer.

Lincoln scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, and pulled away for a 60-51 victory over the No. 7 Panthers to take a big step toward another 3A PCL crown.

Jaleigh Robinson scored a team-high 17 points for the Abes, with Ciona Wells chipping in with 10.

But it was the transition 3-pointers that fueled two runaway spurts - one early in the third quarter to build a 10-point lead, and the other midway through the final quarter to put the game away.

"The biggest thing was calming down offensively, and sticking together as a team," said Koshawn Armstrong, one of Jones' longtime assistant coaches.

Malani Warren sank back-to-back 3-pointers, and Robinson added another, all in a 1:25 span, as the Abes bolted to a 35-25 lead at the 5:05 mark of the third quarter.

That forced Bonney Lake girls coach Kim Peters to make a tough decision on standout post player Jazmyn Shipp, who was on the bench with three fouls. She returned to the game.

It was the might move - Shipp, who finished with a game-high 20 points, tallied an immediate seven points. Brooke Mansfield (15 points) also was huge with eight points over the final 2:43 of the quarter to rally the Panthers, tying the game at 40-40.

But after Simani Thomas' final-second basket to close the quarter gave the Abes the lead back, they started with a 7-0 run in the first 1:36 of the fourth quarter, capped by Wells' right-side 3-pointer, to grab a 49-40 advantage.

"We played hard," Peters said. "They can shoot. They have three really good weapons. We just didn't get out fast enough in the second half."

This is a Lincoln team that cuts quick - and flicks 3-pointers with ease. It made eight shots from long range.

Now, all the Abes have to do is win one of their remaining three games to repeat as 3A PCL champions.

"They were young and did not get a full season last year," Armstrong said. "For them to come in and continue to play at the level they have is big. Now they see and understand what it will take to excel at the next level - the playoffs."