Blake Smith scores game-high 18 points in Lincoln’s win over Wayne

Published 9:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

STEARNS — The Lincoln County boys kicked off the holiday tournament season with a win, avenging an early-season loss to Wayne County with a 61-57 victory in the second game of the Arby’s/KFC Holiday Classic at McCreary Central. 

Blake Smith knocked down a game-high 18 points to lead a trio of double-digit scoring Patriots. Chase Phillips and Spencer Baird both contributed 12 points in the win. Phillips also had a team-high seven rebounds.

“It was definitely a better outcome than the first time we saw them,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “I thought our kids came out and played really hard and were pretty focused on the task at hand. We had a good walk-through today, probably the best walk-through we’ve had. And we had a long talk.”

“We’re 2-5 coming in and playing a team that we’ve played before and beat us, and they’ve got Jakson Baker back. I thought our kids stepped up and played hard and did some really, really good things. I’m just really proud of them.”

The Patriots (3-5) fell behind early in the contest, as the Cardinals (2-4) opened on an 8-2 run. However, Lincoln tied the game before the horn sounded on the first period, with Riley Bodner, Jaxson Smith and Blake Smith hitting back-to-back-to-back buckets in the paint to tie the game at 8-all.

A Blake Smith 3-pointer to open the second quarter gave Lincoln its first lead, 11-8. Wayne retook a 14-13 lead off a bucket by Thomas Spencer only to have Elijah Frye score on a putback, Blake Smith follow with a bucket off a steal and Baird continuing the run with a 3-pointer to put Lincoln on top to stay 20-14.

Lincoln went on to post a 25-15 lead at the break. After a Spencer free throw toss, Frye, Baird and Phillips answered for the Patriots before the end of the first half for the 10-point margin. Frye sank a free throw, Baird drove inside for a bucket then Phillips knocked down two free throws.

Kameron Gehring scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter to help Wayne cut Lincoln’s lead to just two points, 40-38, heading into the final frame. Gehring opened the third with two straight 3’s. The Cards did get within a single point early in the period. After Gehring’s quarter-opening treys, Spencer followed with two free throws and Zachary Dishman, who finished with 10 points, nailed his own 3-pointer to make it 27-26.

Lincoln led by as many as seven points in the third quarter. Riley Bodner, who had five boards in a 25-22 Lincoln win on the glass, scored a putback midway through the third, then Frye bombed in a 3-pointer to give the Pats a 35-28 advantage. The Lincoln lead was 40-36 with 1:02 left in the third after a Jaxon Smith bucket but Jakson Baker, who had 10 points for Wayne and a game-high 12 rebounds, hit inside to close the third to make it a two-point ballgame. 

Baker and Spencer, who finished with 12 points, hit two straight buckets to get the Cards as close as 43-42 early in the fourth quarter, but they would get no closer as the Pats held on for the win. Phillips scored nine of his 12 points in the closing minutes of the game, Baird tallied four points, Jaxon Smith got three points and Blake Smith had three.  

“We didn’t want them to take the lead. And they didn’t take the lead,” Jackson said. “They battled and battled and they cut it down, but we kind of hung in there. They never took the lead and I was happy with that. I thought our defensive effort was good. We got some big stops when we had to. We’ve just got to learn to play harder and smarter and try to get better.”

Lincoln, which had a 13-for-17 stint at the foul line, went 9-for-11 in the final three minutes to preserve the win.

All five Wayne starters finished in double figures, with Aubrey Weaver getting 10 points.

Lincoln shot 51 percent from the floor in the win, going 21-for-41, 6-for-13 from 3-point range. 

Wayne shot 38 percent overall, going 17-for-45 from the field, 6-for-16 from 3. The Cards were 17-for-18 at the foul line.

“I’m real proud of our kids. It was a good win for us tonight,” said Jackson.
“We got contributions from nine kids. We’ve tried to talk to them about buying in, that at different times it could be different people playing more minutes. We just tell them, ‘be patient, be positive and when it’s your time to go, go.’ We did some good things. We’ve just got to keep working and try to get better defensively, try to execute better and just improve.”

The Wayne County game saw the return of Sawyer Carrier to the Lincoln lineup.
The junior forward had the tip of the middle finger on his left hand severed on a pass reception in the Lincoln-Montgomery football game in October.

“It’s good to have him back with us,” Jackson said. “He’s practiced a couple days and done very well. His minutes will hopefully grow. We’ve got to gradually work him into the rotation a little bit more. A horrific injury. It’s good to have him back because he adds a lot of depth to us, a lot of toughness and strength.”

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Arby’s/KFC Holiday Classics
at McCreary Central

Lincoln 8 17 15 21 – 61
Wayne 8 7 23 19 – 57

LINCOLN (3-5) – Blake Smith 18, Elijah Frye 6, Jaxon Smith 7, Chase Phillips 12, Spencer Baird 12, Riley Bodner 6.
WAYNE (2-4) – Jakson Baker 10, Thomas Spencer 12, Aubrey Weaver 10, Zachary Dishman 10, Kameron Gehring 15.