The Raiders beat Lincoln 84-60 in a semifinal with two unbeaten teams.
TACOMA — Brandon Roy isn’t sure what he’s going to say to his team Saturday afternoon yet.
But Nathan Hale’s win Friday night gives the Raiders’ coach a little more time to figure out his pre-championship pep talk.
In a battle of unbeatens, Nathan Hale clinched a spot in the Class 3A state title game for the first time in its program’s history with an 84-60 victory over No. 5 Lincoln in a semifinal Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Nathan Hale will play Metro League rival Garfield at 5 p.m. for the Class 3A championship.
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“This is something that I know I’ve thought about since I took the job — the opportunity to play in this tournament,” said Roy, a former star at Garfield. “I’m really excited. But once you get here you want to win it. We’ll go back to the hotel, we’ll enjoy it, and then we’ll start to prepare.”
The Abes hung with Nathan Hale (28-0), the top-ranked team in the nation, for the first three quarters, trailing 58-46 headed into the final period. But the Raiders, led by star Michael Porter Jr. and sophomore guard P.J. Fuller, started to pull away.
Porter finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and added a few more highlight-reel dunks to his already impressive resume to get the Tacoma Dome crowd — which stretched up to the second level of the arena — on its feet.
“I’ve never seen a buzz like this around any other player ever and I’ve been around for a while,” Roy said. “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen.”
Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton echoed Roy’s praise, saying if Porter’s “not the best, he’s right up there.”
“He can do everything,” Shelton added. “He can shoot, he can pass, he can dribble. He’s so long and athletic. He’s going to be the No. 1 pick in a couple of years. That’ll be a good story. We can tell the future guys, ‘Hey, we battled him at the Dome.’ ”
Fuller led Nathan Hale with 29 points with 17 coming in the second half as the Raiders pulled away.
“We play them a few more times there’s a chance we could get them,” Shelton said. “And we totally believed to the very end that we had a chance but it’s tough.”
Trevante Anderson, Lincoln’s 6-foot-2 point guard, led the Abes with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Emmett Linton finished with 15 points and five rebounds for Lincoln (26-1).
The Abes will play West Seattle for third place at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Roy was especially thankful to his team for beating Lincoln — the team that knocked his Garfield squad out of title contention in the Class 4A quarterfinals of the 2002 state tournament.
“Fifteen years ago, Lincoln bounced me out,” Roy said. “… They had to help me get them back. It took awhile, but I finally got them back.”
Now, Roy has another chance at a state title.
And as for that state championship pregame speech?
“I’m sure it’ll come to me as the night goes on,” Roy said. “I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I just kind of wing it and see what comes to my heart and that’s how I always try to speak with those guys.”