Patriots lose focus and game; fall 74-62 at PC

Published 3:30 pm Thursday, January 12, 2017

SOMERSET — When Lincoln County took the floor Tuesday night, the Patriots looked primed to do something only one other 12th Region team (Southwestern) had done: beat Pulaski County.
But quickly the situation turned and looked, well, a little fuzzy for Lincoln as the Patriots found themselves down 11-2. Or as Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said, the team looked out of focus.
“We missed five layups to start the game,” he said. “When you miss five layups to start the game, you’re usually not focused into what’s going on around you.”
But Lincoln would settle down. The Patriots pulled ahead before the end of the first quarter and held to a one-point lead midway through the second quarter. Pulaski found its range from 3-points out over the second and third quarters, though, bombing in five treys on a 23-7 run en route to a 74-62 win.
The Maroons’ 23-7 run included an 8-0 run to end the first half, a run Jackson said was a game-changer.
“We settled down. But the last 60 seconds of the second quarter …,” Jackson said as he rubbed his head. “It went from 3 to 9 (deficit) just like that.”
Lincoln, which shot just 46 percent from the field overall (22-for-48), missed three straight shots and turned the ball over once in the final two minutes of the first half. Pulaski, which burned the nets for 62 percent (26-for-42), went 3-for-4 in the closing minutes, 2-for-2 from 3, to distance itself from Lincoln.  
Noah Young, who led Lincoln with 28 points and four assists, drained a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 37 seconds to go in the second quarter to pull the Patriots (11-6) within 30-29. Treyvon Sylvester answered Young’s trey with a bucket in the paint to make it 32-29 then Colton Fraley closed with back-to-back 3’s, including a buzzer-beater, to give Pulaski (12-4) a 38-29 lead at the half.
“It’s a three-point game. We take a bad shot. They hit a 3. We come down we’ve got a layup, a wide-open layup that would have made it a four-point game. We kick it to the corner, take a 3, get the rebound, take 10 seconds getting to the lane, then turn the ball over. Should have been, worst case, 4 or 6. The 3 at the buzzer hurt.”
The “hurt” would continue in the third quarter as the Maroons extended their run to 23-7. Landon Powell, who tallied 20 points for Pulaski, including 15 from 3-point range, knocked down two of his five 3’s in the run and Steven Fitzgerald, who had a game-high 31 points, went baseline for two buckets as the Maroons upped their lead to 48-33 midway through the third. Nick Noland and Young had Lincoln’s two buckets during the Pulaski run.
The Maroons led by as many as 18 points in the game, with Powell hitting another 3-pointer with 2:26 left in the third quarter for the 53-35 margin.
Lincoln managed to get within 13 points before the end of the third. Blake Smith answered the Powell trey with a 3-pointer and Young got a field goal and sank four free throws to make it 57-44 going into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots broke on a 7-1 run midway through the fourth to threaten the Maroon lead. Tanner McAninch opened the run with a 3-pointer, then scored inside off a turnover and Chase Phillips grabbed a rebound off a missed Pulaski free throw and took it to the hoop to make it 67-60 with 2:14 to play.
That was as close as the Patriots would get.  
Pulaski got a basket apiece from Powell and Hagan Elmore down the stretch, Fitzgerald sank two free throws and Powell got one free throw toss to seal the win.
“Their size hurt us a little bit. They hit some shots in the second half and got a big lead, but we had some opportunities to do some things,” Jackson said. “We had it to seven but we turned it over. We missed two block outs on free throws, then they kick it out for two more 3’s. That’s six more points. You’ve got to get rebounds. There’s not much room for error. We’ve got to learn to do a lot of things right and better all the time. Some of our decisions were not great. They’re good and they take advantage of the things that you don’t do.”
Powell ignited Pulaski’s 11-2 game-opening run with his first 3-pointer then Fitzgerald, a transfer from Southwestern, erupted for eight points.
A 13-0 Lincoln run would erase Pulaski’s lead. Young had two field goals and a three-point play in the run, Smith nailed a 3 and Devin Alcorn, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals, opened his scoring with a three-point play for a 15-13 Patriot lead after the first.
Phillips hit inside for Lincoln to start the second quarter for Lincoln’s biggest lead of the game, 17-13. Alcorn drained a 3-pointer and added a field goal in the second and Young collected a bucket and two free throws as the Patriots and Maroons traded leads. However, Fitzgerald pumped in 11 of his 19 first-half points in the second quarter, his final two coming at the foul line as he sank two free throws to put Pulaski on top to stay, 27-26.
“We didn’t have a good practice yesterday. The way we played tonight was how we practiced yesterday,” said Jackson. “I’m disappointed in how we played, our energy. When you get a chance to come down here and play a team of this caliber, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and we didn’t bring an ‘A’ game. That’s my fault. I didn’t do a good job getting them ready.”
Lincoln was 12-for-12 at the foul line, Pulaski was 14-for-26.
The Maroons led 25-19 on the glass, with Danny Butt getting seven rebounds.

at Pulaski Co.
1 2 3 4 F
Lincoln 15 14 15 18 – 62
Pulaski 13 25 19 17 – 74

LINCOLN (11-6) – Devin Alcorn 15, Tanner McAninch 5, Blake Smith 6, Chase Phillips 6, Noah Young 28, Nick Noland 2.
PULASKI (13-4) – Steven Fitzgerald 31, Danny Butt 7, Colton Fraley 6, Landon Powell 20, Treyvon Slyvester 8, Hagan Elmore 2.

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