Lincoln girls survive scare; rally late to pull out 53-47 win over Russell

Published 9:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

LEXINGTON —  Maybe a close win on the road was just what the Lady Patriots needed.

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half and for much of the second half, Maddy Boyle, Emma King and Trinity Shearer keyed a 12-0 run that helped Lincoln County ultimately erase the Russell lead and set the Lady Patriots on course for a 53-47 win in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic Tuesday night. 

“We needed a tough-fought battle and to pull out a win against a quality team. It was good to see, but I didn’t like it,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter exclaimed after the come-from-behind victory. “I would much rather not be having a heart attack the fourth quarter.” 

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Boyle, who finished with 13 points, ignited the 12-0 run which turned a 42-37 deficit into a 49-42 lead. Boyle drained a 3-pointer with 3:43 to play then, King, who had a game-high 25 points, followed with a layup off her own steal to deadlock the game at 42-all. Just seconds later, King was fouled after a Trinity Shearer steal and she sank the front end of the bonus to give Lincoln its first lead of the night. Shearer continued the run with a lofting shot off a Zaria Napier steal, Boyle added a bucket in the paint and then King capped the run with two free throws.

Lincoln (6-0) never trailed again. The Lady Patriots went on to lead by as many as nine points, 53-44, before posting the win, with Boyle and Napier sinking two free throws apiece in the closing seconds. They limited Russell to just two shot attempts in the run by forcing five turnovers. 

“We’ve had a lot of situations this season where we’ve had big leads, running clocks, and it’s sometimes hard to be disciplined because we’ve got kids who are tender-hearted and don’t want to beat people by 60,” McWhorter said. “But tonight I loved the fight and the defense late in the game. We had a lot of different people who stepped up and made some big buckets, big free throws and big stops against a very good team.”

A cold shooting performance from the field doomed Lincoln early, as the Lady Pats went 6-for-23 for 26 percent to trail Russell 17-7 at the end of the first and 26-18 at the break. The Lady Tigers shot 44 percent from the field the first half, going 11-for-25. They boosted their scoring with a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range.

The Lady Patriots found themselves in a big hole early, as the Lady Tigers (5-4) jumped on Lincoln 10-0. Rachel Michael and Ty Mitchell knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game and Madison Darnell and Kaeli Ross both hit inside. 

After seven missed field goal attempts, King finally ended the Lady Tiger run with a jumper at the 3:56 mark of the first quarter.

Darnell, who led Russell with 18 points, had seven in the first period, bombing in a 3-pointer late then closing the first with a bucket off a turnover for a 17-7 margin.

Ross scored to open the second quarter for Russell’s largest lead of the game, 19-7. Lincoln answered the bucket with a 7-0 run to pull within 19-14 midway through the period. King book-ended the run with field goals and Shearer nailed a 3-pointer.

Russell would take a 26-18 lead into the break, though, with Darnell hitting a buzzer-beating basket.

“We hadn’t had a game yet where we’ve hit a wall where shots aren’t falling but we’re getting some defensive stops. That happened tonight,” said McWhorter. “We just looked a little sluggish early, but then we picked up our defensive intensity. We kept just cutting. I told them, ‘We’ll wear them down. Keep getting stops. The ball will eventually go in the hole.”

And it would. Lincoln finally heated up from the field the second half, connecting on 58 percent (11-for-19) of its shots.

The Lady Patriots used a 6-0 run in the third quarter to make a big cut in Russell’s lead. Ross, who finished with 11 points, hit a 3-pointer for a 30-21 Lady Tiger lead before the Lady Pat offense surged. Kaitlynn Wilks scored on a putback to open the run, Napier followed with a bucket off a Boyle assist then Boyle followed with a layup to make it a 30-27 ballgame.

Wilks would not be a factor in scoring Tuesday, with Russell holding her to single digits – four points – for the first time this season. She did lead Lincoln on the boards with eight rebounds.

“They did their scouting and they had Kaitlynn’s number,” said McWhorter. “They were double-teaming on her all night. As soon as she’d catch the ball, they’d try to get it out of her hands. That’s a good job on their part of scouting.”

The Lady Pats had pulled within 35-33 late in the third off three King free throws, but Darnell would answer late again for the Lady Tigers to make it 37-33 heading into the fourth quarter where Lincoln made its winning comeback run.

“We struggled from the field early on but what fight,” McWhorter said. “I’m proud of the girls for not giving up. I know they’re not going to give up on me. I’m proud of a lot of different kids in a lot of different ways. And I’m proud of the defense late. That was a, ‘Let’s go back and watch film and see our intensity defensively. And this is what I’ve been trying to get you to do from start to finish.’”

Mitchell had 11 points for Russell. 

Lincoln finished the night at 41 percent from the field overall (17-for-42). The Lady Pats were 3-for-12 from 3-point range and 16-for-21 at the foul line.

Russell finished the night at 43 percent from the field (17-for-40). From 3-point range, the Lady Tigers were 6-for-12. They were 7-for-13 at the line.

Lincoln edged Russell on the glass 27-26. Napier had six boards and King and Shearer each had five for Lincoln. Lakie Sanders led Russell with seven rebounds and Darnell had five.

King had three steals for the Lady Patriots and Shearer and Anna Lane each had two. Shearer led the team in assists with four and Boyle had three.

Traditional Bank Holiday Classic
at Lex. Catholic

Lincoln 7 11 15 20 – 53
Russell 17 9 11 10 – 47

LINCOLN (6-0) – Emma King 25, Kaitlynn Wilks 4, Maddy Boyle 13, Trinity Shearer 5, Zaria Napier 4, Anna Lane 2.
RUSSELL (5-4) – Ty Mitchell 11, Madison Darnell 18, Kaeli Ross 11, Rachel Michael 6, Lakie Sanders 1.