Lincoln edged by LexCath 61-60

Published 3:59 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

STANFORD — It was a sure bet Tuesday night that LCHS was going to emerge as the winner at J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium.
The only question was – would it be host Lincoln County High School or visiting Lexington Catholic High School?
Unfortunately for the Patriots, it was the Knights of Lexington Catholic taking home the victory. Senior guard Luke Johnson made a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining to lift his team to a 61-60 win over Lincoln.
Lincoln (20-9) trailed by one late when Noah Young, who had a game-high 29 points with four assists and two steals, bombed in a 3-point goal for a 60-59 edge with just six ticks left. After a LexCath timeout with 4.5 seconds on the clock, Johnson brought the ball up then drew a foul on Young as he crossed the midcourt line. He proceeded to hit both free throws, tying the game and then winning it.
Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson was not pleased with his team’s execution in the closing seconds.
“We’ve got to be disciplined on the defensive end. You’ve got to get a stop when you have to get a stop and we didn’t do that,” he said. “We tell our kids, ‘Let your defense win for you.’ And the last thing Carlos (Nunez) yelled at them coming out of the huddle was, ‘Let your defense win for you!’ We had a certain defense set up and we didn’t execute that defensive segment and it allowed them to shoot two free throws and win the game.”
Johnson finished with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots for LexCath. Zan Payne also hit double figures, leading the team with 15 points along with seven rebounds.
LexCath (20-7) led by as many as nine points in a game that saw 13 lead changes. Most of those lead changes occurred in the first quarter with Lincoln and LexCath trading leads nine times in the opening frame. 
Devin Alcorn, who finished with 11 points and three steals, nailed a 3-pointer for Lincoln’s first lead of the game, 5-4, and Tanner McAninch, who had 14 points and eight boards, also drained a 3 for the Patriots’ biggest lead of the night, 10-8, then hit a behind-the-head baseline shot for a 16-15 edge.
Max Sparkman answered McAninch’s baseline bucket with a score to put LexCath on top and Johnson closed with a basket in the paint to make it 19-16 at the end of the first.
The Knights never trailed again until the closing seconds of the game.
The Patriots evened the game at 23-all midway through the second quarter after a McAninch 3-point goal and two Young free throws. 
LexCath, which led by five points early in the second period,  pushed its lead back to five late in the first half. Payne scored six of his 15 points in the second quarter off two field goals and two free throws to help make it 32-27. But Lincoln would answer last in the second with Young scoring a bucket for a 32-29 halftime score.
The two teams traded scoring runs in the third quarter. 
Payne hit inside to spark a 6-0 run to start the second half and extend the LexCath lead and Blake Scott followed with back-to-back buckets to put the Knights up 38-29. However, Lincoln would answer with a 9-2 run to cut into the lead, with Young scoring three field goals before Alcorn bombed in a 3-pointer to get the Pats within 40-38.
The margin was five, 45-40, at the end of the third, though, with Keegan Bailey hitting a 3-pointer for LexCath to end the period. The Knights were showing a 51-42 lead early in the fourth after a bucket apiece by Johnson and Payne and two Javen Hardin free throws.
The Patriots made a furious rally effort in the final frame, breaking on an 18-8 run to take the lead. Lincoln opened the run with back-to-back layups, with Young getting an easy score off a Alcorn steal, then Young forcing a turnover and Alcorn going in for the layup. Alcorn would also nail a 3-pointer in the run, McAninch would sink two free throws and Young would collect 11 points, including a three-point play for a 57-56 Pat lead and then the big 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play.
“Our kids deserved a better fate and an outcome,” Jackson said. “I thought our kids played their tails off and I’m really proud of them. Again, it’s my fault that we’re not doing the things that we need to be doing when we need to do them.”
Lincoln shot 45 percent from the field, going 23-for-51 overall, 6-for-24 from 3-point range. The Pats were 8-for-9 at the foul line.
LexCath shot 51 percent, going 23-for-45, 3-for-13 from 3. At the line, the Knights were 12-for-16.
The Knights edged the Pats on the glass 26-25.

at Lincoln Co.
1 2 3 4 F
LexCath 19 13 13 16 – 61
Lincoln 16 13 11 20 – 60

LEX. CATHOLIC (20-7) – Zan Payne 15, Peter Whitman 9, TC Price 4, Luke Johnson 14, Blake Scott 7, Javen Hardin 4, Keegan Bailey 6, Max Sparkman 2. 
LINCOLN (20-9) – Devin Alcorn 11, Tanner McAninch 14, Blake Smith 2, Noah Young 29,  Riley Bodner 4.

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