Patriots stumble in season opener; fall 70-69 in OT

STANFORD — The Lincoln County boys basketball team could carry Tuesday’s season-opening loss with it for a long time.
The question is: Will the Patriots band together and learn from their mistakes after blowing a 17-point lead to Lafayette or will they let the loss hang like an albatross around their necks as they head into the season?
Noah Young poured in a game-high 31 points and Chase Phillips and Devin Alcorn tallied 11 points and 10 points, respectively, as Lincoln shot 51 percent from the field, but it wouldn’t be enough as the visiting Lafayette Generals battled back from a 49-32 third-quarter deficit and controlled the fourth quarter en route to a 70-69 overtime win.
“We let it slip away,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “We just weren’t disciplined in the fourth quarter and overtime. We had a breakdown communication-wise in what we wanted to do defensively. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them to listen in the huddles and pay attention better to detail. Those are little things that will get you beat and tonight they got us beat.”
Senior reserve guard Jajuante Carpenter had a slow start but took over the game late in the third quarter, tallying nine of his 15 total points as Lafayette erased Lincoln’s lead with a 22-4 scoring surge. He nailed a 3-pointer, picked up two field goals and sank two free throws. Cameron King drained a 3-pointer to ignite the rally effort, one of three 3s in the run. Eric Powell, who led Lafayette with 21 points, and Evan Dreux, who finished with 11 points, also had 3s. Shawn Catlett scored the final bucket of the third quarter to make it a 51-41 ballgame then Cameron Greenup scored later off a turnover to cap the run and put Lafayette in front 54-53 with 4:32 left in regulation.
“We were making shots and when we were making shots we were guarding the heck out of them. We stopped making shots and it affected what we did down here (defensive end) and they started hitting,” Jackson said. “Again, we got so undisciplined in our zone and we gave them open shots. They hit eight 3s. We didn’t do a very good job of getting out and guarding them.”
The game was tied at 57-all with 2:34 left in regulation after a Carpenter 3-pointer. Nick Noland answered with two free throws for Lincoln and Alcorn scored a layup to put the Pats up 61-57 only to have Powell follow with his own layup to make it 61-59. Lincoln had the opportunity to add to its lead in the closing seconds after Carpenter fouled Alcorn, but Alcorn missed the front end of a bonus situation.
“They have a heck of a team and when we had some breakdowns, especially defensively, missing free throws and rebounding, they took advantage,” said Jackson. “We’re up two and we miss the front end. We missed a lot of free throws and the kids we had shooting free throws are the ones we want shooting free throws. They’ve just got to step up and make them. And rebounding. They killed us on the glass. They had 10 more rebounds than us (38-28). They had 12 offensive rebounds and they scored on seven of those 12 offensive rebounds. That’s 14 points on putbacks. If they don’t get those shots and we go down and score and take care of the ball a little better, we don’t get in the situation we got ourselves in.”
Possibly the biggest defensive breakdown for Lincoln came at the end of regulation when, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, Powell drove inside for an uncontested layup to tie the game at 61 and force overtime.
“The last play of the game where they scored to tie. I’m not even going to go there on the record,” said Jackson. “We had a breakdown there and you can’t have breakdowns right there. That’s when you’ve got to reach down and smack that floor and be as tough as a pine knot and get a stop and stay in front of it. And we didn’t do that, we did not do that.”
Lincoln’s Young hit the front end of a two-shot foul to open the overtime period, but Lafayette’s Powell drained a 3-pointer and Carpenter added a bucket and a free throw to put the Generals on top to stay, 67-62, with 1:17 to go. The Patriots went 2-for-4 at the line in the extra period and Young bombed in two 3-pointers but the rally effort fell short.
“We just weren’t disciplined in the fourth quarter and overtime. We’ve got to show some resolve,” Jackson said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We shouldn’t not take care of the ball. We shouldn’t not make free throws. We had opportunities to win at the line in regulation. We’ve got to make free throws. Those are points you have to get.”
Lincoln, which was 23-for-45 from the field, was 13-for-21 at the foul line. Lafayette was 25-for-59 from the field (42 percent) and 12-for-17 at the line.
It was the Patriots (0-1) waging a comeback effort in the early part of the game, with the Generals (1-0) opening on a 9-0 run. Phillips got Lincoln on the scoreboard with a three-point play midway through the first to kickstart the rally. Phillips had eight of his 11 points in the 24-14 run. Young bombed in three 3’s with a layup, Tanner McAninch got a bucket and Noland sank a free throw before closing the run with a bucket in the paint for Lincoln’s first lead, 24-23. Blake Smith and Phillips both hit from 3-point range at the end of the first half, with Phillips’ shot from behind the midcourt line falling at the buzzer for a 32-26 Pat lead.
The shots continued to fall for Lincoln in the third quarter, with the Pats using a 17-6 run to extend their lead. Young scored with a 3-pointer and two field goals, Alcorn had a trey and a basket, McAninch also hit a 3 and Noland hit inside as Lincoln posted the biggest lead of the game, 49-32.
“We got off to a terrible start,” Jackson said. “We handled their pressure, started making some shots and got up. We’re up 10 going into the fourth, then they turned the heat up and we missed some shots. We just weren’t very disciplined in our 2-3 zone and really got spread out. We tell our kids, ‘You make free throws, you make layups and you make wide open 3s and you’re going to win a lot of games.’ We didn’t do that and we didn’t win.”

at Lincoln Co.
1 2 3 4 OT F
Lafayette 21 5 15 20 9 70
Lincoln 16 16 19 10 8 69

LAFAYETTE (1-0) – Eric Powell 21, Cameron King 12, Cameron Greenup 7, Evan Dreux 11, Shawn Catlett 2, Jajuante Carpenter 15, Jackson Phillips 2.
LINCOLN (0-1) – Devin Alcorn 10, Tanner McAninch 5, Blake Smith 5, Chase Phillips 11, Noah Young 31, Nick Noland 7.