U-D Jesuit did what it wanted. It kept the ball out of Emoni Bates’ hands on the final possession.
But it forgot about Jalen Fisher.
A missed shot bounced to Fisher, who grabbed it and nailed a 15-footer an instant before the buzzer sounded to give Ypsilanti Lincoln (Mich.) the Division 1 state championship at the Breslin Center on Saturday.
Bates, the top-rated freshman in the country, finished with a game-high 23 points for Lincoln (23-4), Fisher added 16 and Amari Frye 15 as the Railsplitters captured the first state title in school history.
Daniel Friday topped U-D Jesuit (25-3) with 19 points and Julian Dozier had 18.
Both teams struggled with their shooting early in the games. Bates missed his first five shots before nailing a 3-pointer to get going.
Lincoln led, 15-14, after one quarter, but the Cubs took command early in the second period. Friday sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Dozier hoop to give U-D a five-point lead.
Bates began to attack U-D at the basket, taking the ball from the perimeter to the rim to keep Lincoln close. But midway in the quarter he began to force some perimeter shots and went to the bench.
Emoni Bates: “I’ve got three more (championships) to win”
With Bates sitting, the Cubs made their move. U-D outscoring Lincoln, 9-2, to take a 34-23 halftime lead on an alley-oop pass to Friday.
Halftime was just what needed to regroup. The Railsplitters scored the first five points to get close and following a Morgan basket, ran off eight straight points to tie the game midway through the third quarter.
Friday made his presence felt when he drove the baseline and threw down a dunk. He followed that with a three-point play and then a fast break lay-up.
Lincoln responded with a run of its own, featuring a dunk by Bates to tie the score before another Friday jam gave U-D a 51-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cubs carried that momentum into the fourth quarter and with 5 minutes left they held a nine-point advantage. But once again Lincoln came storming back to take the lead on a step-back jumper by Bates and an offensive rebound by Frye with 1:40 left.
After five consecutive scoreless possessions that spanned almost four minutes, Dozier tied the game with a drive with 1:21 left to play to set up the game-winning possession by Lincoln.