DALLAS, Texas – Friday was a night 12 years and 24 games in the making.
For as long as Patrick Washington had been Dallas Woodrow Wilson's head coach, the Wildcats couldn't beat Dallas Lincoln.
In front of a large and loud crowd, Woodrow broke the dozen-year losing streak to District 12-4A rival Lincoln with an 86-78 win at Forester Field House.
Woodrow forward Zach Coleman was four assists short of a triple-double, scoring a team-high 24 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
“Zach played well,” Washington said. “He’s been playing well for us all year. We got him back from a knee injury. His knee isn’t 100 percent yet, but when it gets 100 percent he is going to be somebody people will have to reckon with.”
Coleman made his presence known from the beginning of the game, pulling down boards and putting back second-chance baskets, including a huge slam early in the first.
The speed of the game picked up in the second quarter, resulting in sloppy play by both teams. Lincoln fared better in the track meet, moving ahead late in the half and taking a 39-36 lead into the break.
“We try to score every eight to 10 seconds if we can,” Washington said. “We had fourteen turnovers in the first half, but we came back and quieted some of that down.”
Assistant coach Wendell Thorton decision to change up Woodrow’s defensive scheme in the second half shifted control back to the Wildcats.
Woodrow dropped a half-court trap that was mostly ineffective in the first half, replacing it with a 3-2 zone that forced the Tigers to stop in the half court and move the ball for an open shot.
Woodrow won the quarter by eight points and held a 64-59 lead headed into the final frame.
In the fourth, Woodrow gave the Tigers another look on defense, assigning guard Trey Washington to man up on a designated Lincoln player, denying the pass all the way down the court.
His effort turned into a steal in the backcourt and an easy layup with 32 seconds left that put the game out of reach 82-76.
“Trey did a great job,” Thorton said. “He got a big steal and just did a great job.”
The win gives Woodrow a valuable edge over Lincoln in the race for the district title. The Wildcats have a matchup next week against Dallas Bryan Adams before they face the other championship contender, Dallas Hillcrest, which beat Woodrow in the DISD/Coca-Cola Tournament in late December.
Woodrow’s sixth man of the night was the several-hundred person crowd that gathered to witness what they hoped would be a small part of school history.
Their rowdy participation made it nearly impossible to hear the PA announcer and became an intimidating force behind Woodrow’s strong fourth-quarter defense.
“There’s always a big crowd that comes out for Lincoln,” Washington said. “A lot of people knew we were trying to get a win in district and everything and they came out in force. Everyone was telling them to come out and check us out, and I appreciate the fans. They played a heck of a role.”
The fans' effort was rewarded with a win that Wildcats supporters had hoped to see for many years.
“Twelve years times two district games, that’s 24," Washington said. "So now I’ve got one and now I’ve got to get 23 more.”