Belleville — Emoni Bates aced the test in his first state tournament game Wednesday night, coming up with 26 points and 11 rebounds to help Ypsilanti Lincoln defeat rival Ypsilanti 65-56 in a Division 1 district semifinal before a standing-room only crowd.
Bates, a 6-foot-8 freshman who is considered the top player in the 2022 class in the nation, set the tempo by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minute, a 22-footer from the right wing 22 seconds in and then another long-range bomb from the left wing 36 seconds later.
Lincoln — 17-4 and ranked No. 17 in The News Super 20 — led 11-4 after another 3-pointer by senior guard Jalen Fisher, but Ypsilanti (14-7) wasn’t going anywhere. The school won nine straight SEC White Division championships until Lincoln ended the run this season with a regular-season sweep, including a 68-56 win at Ypsilanti Jan. 18 when Bates scored 43 and a 67-66 victory before nearly 4,000 fans at EMU’s Convocation Center when Bates had 24.
Senior guard Christian Knox scored seven in the opening quarter to help Ypsilanti pull even at 17 and then added another seven in the second to keep his team within 30-28 at halftime.
Bates consistently played with high energy, scoring 19 by halftime, making 6-of-13 shots from the field, 2-of-5 3-pointers and 5-of-6 free throws.
Lincoln took control during the third quarter with 6-2 senior point guard Tahj Chatman starting a 13-2 run to open a 43-30 lead off a spin move for a layup.
Chatman had to be fresh after being forced to the bench with three fouls with 5:08 left in the first half.
Then, Fisher stepped up, making contributions at both ends of the floor, taking a charge and then scoring on a three-point play for the 43-30 lead with 3:44 left in the third.
“At halftime Coach (Jesse Davis) told us we had to come out strong, it didn’t matter if we were up at halftime by two, we just had to come out like we were down by 15 and that’s what we did, came out and did what we had to do,” said Fisher, who scored 22, making six straight free throws when Lincoln made 9-of-10 during the final 1:29 after Ypsilanti cut the deficit to five (56-51). “Coach yelled 'defense, defense, defense.' We have all the scorers in the world, but defense was the key to the win.”
Bates showed his ability to get the fans out of their seats, including one time near the end of the third quarter when he missed a 3-pointer, followed his shot and dunked off the putback for a 49-36 lead.
“Me and my teammates played together, played hard and got the Dub,” said Bates, who entered averaging 30 points and 10.3 rebounds.
On his start, the two 3-pointers?
“I was just working on my shot and my shot started falling so I shot it,” Bates said.
And, on that dunk off his own 3-point miss?
“I just followed my shot, got the tip dunk and got the crowd going,” Bates said. “I just went out there and played my game. I try to help my team win and that’s what we did.”
Knox scored 28 for Ypsilanti, including four 3-pointers. He scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, during a 13-3 run to pull within five, but he missed a 3-pointer that would have cut the deficit to 56-54 with 1:40 left and then Lincoln closed the game at the line.
Lincoln, which won its first league title in 15 years, will face Saline (13-9) in Friday’s 6 p.m. district championship game at Belleville for the right to host a regional next Tuesday. Lincoln defeated Saline at Saline on Dec. 7, 70-39.
More boys districts
Bloomfield Hills 46, Auburn Hills Avondale 38: Mason Canfield scored 17 and Collin Hecker 15 for Bloomfield Hills. Kobe Anthony scored 12 for Avondale.
Canton 67, Westland John Glenn 61: Vincent Sigmon scored 17, Kendall Perkins 15 and B. Artis White 14 for Canton. Joe Moon scored 27 for John Glenn.
Dearborn 76, Redford Thurston 67: Ben Clark scored 20, Niemer Hamood 17, Brendan Russeau 13 and Alieu Kah 11 for Dearborn (11-11). Isaiah Turner had 19 points and Jamar Boyd 16 points for Thurston (14-8).
Detroit King 63, Melvindale 33: Chauncey Willis scored 12, Keith Tate 11 amd Gelil Ward 10 for King. Marcus Riley scored 13 for Melvindale.
Detroit Mumford 101, Southfield A&T 97, (OT): Alan Gee Jr. scored 44 and Demontez Wolfolk added 16 for Mumford.
Detroit Western 64, Dearborn Edsel Ford 60 (OT): Kip Clark scored 26 for Western (8-13). Jalal Baydoun had 21 points, seven assists and seven steals for Edsel Ford (17-5).
Grosse Pointe South 62, Eastpointe 45: William Johnson had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Luke Adams 14 points and 10 rebounds for Grosse Pointe South. Jesse Jvokins scored 17 for Eastpointe.
Lansing Everett 62, East Lansing 53: Shamar Howard scored 18, Albert Mask 15 and Ja’Lon Payne 13 for Everett (10-12). Andrel Anthony scored 15 for East Lansing (10-11).
Macomb Dakota 56, Port Huron Northern 49: Mark Tocco had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals and Joshua Hines 12 points, four rebounds and three assists for Dakota (15-6). Northern finishes the season 10-11.
Northville 48, North Farmington 39: Daniel McLaughlin scored 13 and Ryan Pumper added 11 for Northville (18-4). Deon Hayes finished with 14 for North Farmington (13-8).
Okemos 46, Jackson 36: Evan Thomas scored 17 for Okemos (19-2). Ex’Ziar Edwards scored nine for Jackson (15-6).
Orchard Lake St. Mary's 52, Warren Mott 40: Loren Bowman scored 19 while Jason Drake and Peter Nwoke each had 10 for Orchard Lake St. Mary's (14-7). Mott finishes 17-4.
Walled Lake Northern 45, Walled Lake Central 44: Troy Lattimore had 13 points amd Kevyn Robertson 10 points and 11 rebounds, including a last second putback layup to give Northern (20-2) the win. Matt Ellsberry and Donivan Dickerson scored 13 each for Central (6-15).
Wayne Memorial 55, Plymouth 52: Isaiah Lewis had 23 points and five rebounds and Dreyon O’Neal 12 points and 10 rebounds for Wayne Memorial. Ryan Berger scored 19 for Plymouth.
Woodhaven 76, New Boston Huron 48: Brandon Wilkinson scored 15 and Colin Czajkowski 11 for Woodhaven (10-11).
Utica 49, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 48: Trey Koteles scored 16, Joan Binishi 13 and Nik Gjonaj 12, including the winning basket for Utica (8-12). Marshall Emerson and Trevor Smith had 10 points each for Stoney Creek (9-12).
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 70, Detroit Country Day 68: Jordan Benson scored 17 for Cranbrook. AJ Aburashed scored 18 for Country Day.
Detroit Douglass 61, Detroit Voyager 52: Zavion Mcclendon scored 22, Javante Randle had 13 rebounds and seven blocks and Pierre Brooks II scored 17 for Douglass (9-12). Elijah Bell scored 30 for Voyager.
Detroit Henry Ford 53, Detroit Communication Media Arts 52: Ryan Williams scored 14 and Joseph Whitted 13, including two free throws to clinch the game for Ford (15-7). Darian Jhons had 19 points for CMA (11-10).
Harper Woods 90, St. Clair Shores South Lake 82: Ken Thomas had 27 points, 20 rebounds and a block, Curtis Jackson 22 points, 12 assists and three steals and Daniel Briggs 16 points, 12 rebounds and a block for Harper Woods (15-5). Cody Harris had 27 points and five assists and Artez Washington added 24 points for South Lake (10-12).
Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy 77, Detroit Denby 36: Andre Bradford had 35 points and five assists, Tyland Tate 16 points and five rebounds and Jayland Randall 14 points for Chandler Park (18-0).
New Haven 97, Algonac 23: Romeo Weems had 32 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks and Ronald Jeffery 26 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals for New Haven (21-1).
Detroit Loyola 80, Dearborn Heights Star International 18: Kwesi Henry scored 11, Miles Pringle 10, Dylan Hemphill nine and Daniel Ackles eight for Loyola (14-8). Star International finishes at 9-10.
Ecorse 82, Detroit Universal Academy 19: Darius Leapheart had 14 points and eight assists, Darrius Cross 10 points and five rebounds and Deondre Bonaparte 10 points and five steals for Ecorse (13-7).
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 48, Detroit Southeastern 47: Kaleb Chelli scored 14 and Mikey Lividini 12 for Baptist (14-7). Demontez Jones had 16 points and Krystafer Gould 11 points for Southeastern (5-12).
Austin Catholic 77, Macomb Christian 40: Austin Catholic (5-11) won its first state playoff game in school history as Benjamin Brown set a school record with 31 points and 14 rebounds and Alex Kreft scored 20. Isaiah Florendo scored 13 for Macomb Christian (1-17).
Taylor Trillium 63, Melvindale ABT 36: Eli Fishburn scored 18 for Trillium.