Matthew Poplawski led the Lions with 23 points, while Tramaine Isabell added 21.
TACOMA — It’s been so long since Lakeside has been a basketball powerhouse that, to many around the area, it’s hard to remember the program’s glory days.
And so this season, with a group of players who weren’t even born the last time Lakeside played in the state tournament, the Lions set out to carve their own legacy. No. 1 Lakeside took a big step forward in that pursuit with an 86-67 win Friday against No. 3 Lincoln in a Class 3A state semifinal.
Lakeside (24-4) will play No. 2 Rainier Beach (24-4) at 5 p.m. on Saturday for the 3A state title. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports.
“One of our team values is: one team, one standard,” Lakeside coach Tavio Hobson said. “It’s not about who came before us. It’s about our own standard. And our standard is a different level than what’s been here in the past.
“Once we got our players to buy into that, the sky’s the limit.”
The Lions thoroughly dominated Lincoln (22-4), a team that has been ranked in the top three all season. The Abes feature future Pac-12 players Tre-Shaun Fletcher (Colorado) and Ahmaad Rorie (California), but Lakeside employed the balanced scoring that makes the Lions so dangerous.
Matthew Poplawski led Lakeside with 23 points and hit six three-pointers while Tramaine Isabell added 21 points and seven assists.
Lakeside, which last played in the state tournament in 1991, didn’t waste any time jumping on Lincoln. The Lions led 20-8 after the first quarter, and it wasn’t close after that.
By halftime, Lakeside opened the gap to 21 points. Isabell had 16 points. Poplawski had 15 points and five threes. And the Lions had shot a scorching 57 percent from three-point range (8 of 14).
If the Lions could have drawn up an ideal first half against a ranked team, they probably wouldn’t have done much better.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Hobson said.
That sets up another showdown with Rainier Beach. The two schools have met three times this season, including in the championship games for the Metro League and the Sea-King 3A District tournament.
Beach won the first two games, but Lakeside took the district title.
“They know us, and we know them,” Lakeside assistant coach Aaron White said. “It’s just going to be about whoever plays the best basketball tomorrow; that’s the championship.”
No. 3 Lincoln will play No. 8 Franklin at 1 p.m. in the third-place game. Rorie led Lincoln with 28 points while Fletcher had 14.