Ypsilanti — Freshman phenom Emoni Bates put on a show for the home fans Tuesday night, again living up to the hype of being the nation's top-rated player in the 2022 class.
Bates, 6-foot-8, scored 26, including a winning 3-pointer from the left wing with 4 seconds remaining to send the crowd into a frenzy in Ypsilanti Lincoln’s dramatic 58-55 comeback win over Ann Arbor Skyline in a Division 1 regional semifinal Tuesday night at Lincoln.
Lincoln — 19-4 and ranked No. 17 in The News Super 20 — will be trying to win its first regional title in school history Thursday night against Detroit Catholic Central.
Skyline (15-8) took its largest lead at 50-40 with 4:40 left when Jaylin Cooper made his third and final 3-pointer of the game.
It was at this time that Skyline was getting to loose balls, forcing multiple turnovers and getting second chance points.
Lincoln wouldn’t quit. Bates had help from his supporting cast, including senior guards Tahj Chatman (10 points) and Amari Frye (14 points).
Chatman started the comeback with a 3-pointer, then a transition basket off a Bates’ steal to cut the deficit to 50-45 with 3:20 left.
Then, Bates took over, making a 3-pointer to pull within 50-48, two of three free throws to keep it close at 53-50 with 1:48 left after Skyline had pushed the lead back up to five by making three free throws.
Skyline was still in control with the ball, but standout senior point guard Ryan Wade (Holy Cross) turned the ball over while attacking the basket with 1:31 left. Lincoln couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and Skyline got the ball back and converted two free throws by Robert Malcolm for a 55-50 lead with 1:06 left.
That’s when Frye took over, first contributing a three-point play with a minute left, then scoring off a putback with 32 seconds left to pull even at 55.
Skyline had its chances, but missed a pair of free throws with 28.5 seconds left, setting up Bates’ heroics.
After a timeout with 10.5 seconds left, Lincoln had the ball from the right sideline, got the ball into Bates’ hands and he tossed in a 25-footer for the difference.
“I was just trying to get defensive rebounds because in the first half they were getting too many offensive rebounds so we had to buckle down on defense and box out,” said Frye, who then talked about his fourth-quarter contributions. “I just tried my best to figure out how to put my team in position to win.”
And, on Bates?
“Emoni’s made for these moments,” said Frye of Bates. “We all have confidence that he knows what he has to do to knock those shots down. He practices those shots every day.”
Bates made 8-of-18 shots from the field, including 7-of-14 3-pointers.
Wade finished with 20 points for Skyline, but made just 7-of-24 shots from the floor, 3-of-13 3-pointers.