Comeback Pats: LC boys top Danville in epic 4th quarter

Published 1:50 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

DANVILLE — Down for most of Friday night’s 45th District opener at Danville, the Lincoln County boys basketball team found a way to erase a double-digit deficit in the final 2 minutes, 31 seconds and earn the win.

Lincoln, which moved to .500 on the season (8-8, 1-0 district), trailed by as many as 16 points in the district clash and was down 43-32 when the team broke on a 15-3 run to edge the Admirals 47-46.

The Patriots had pulled within 46-45 with just seconds to play and, after a missed shot attempt, Elijah Frye drove the baseline for the last two points of his 11 for the game.

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However, the shot didn’t actually fall through the net. Danville was called for goal-tending on the play to put Lincoln on top.

“That was huge,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said of Frye’s play. “They (officials) said Danville pulled the net down when he took the shot. I thought it was a good call.”  

Danville (5-9, 0-1) still had a chance to reclaim the lead, though, with 12.5 seconds left on the clock after Lincoln’s go-ahead basket. Zach Thornton, who led the Admirals with 18 points, put up a shot attempt in the closing seconds. But the shot would miss its target and Frye was there to grab the rebound just before time expired.

“It was a great win,” Jackson said. “The kids played hard. We didn’t quit. They kept playing. We didn’t play great and they (Admirals) had a lot to do with that. But we made some plays when we had to to win.” 

Lincoln opened its 15-3 comeback effort with a 10-1 run. Frye kickstarted the run with a bucket then Phillips, who had a game-high 22 points, rolled off eight straight points, including a 3-pointer, to get the Pats within 44-42 with 52.3 ticks left in the game. 

Jared Southerland put Danville’s lead at 46-42 with two free throw tosses, but the Ads would not score again. Frye bombed in a 3-pointer with 38.9 seconds on the clock then, after two missed free throws by Danville with 28.8 showing, Lincoln brought the ball up court to get the game-winning bucket. 

“Our defense got a little bit better and our traps were good. We made things happen,” Jackson said of Lincoln’s late rally. “Chase (Phillips) was able to get in the lane and score a couple and kick it out for other people, and Elijah … it was just a good team win. I’m really proud of our kids’ effort that they gave tonight.”

Danville would not score a single field goal in the final 3:21 of the game, going 0-for-6 while turning the ball over three times.

“You can’t shoot two or three 3s with a minute to go and be doing silly stuff with the ball and turning it over,” Danville coach Ed McKinney said of the Admirals’ play late in the game. “I’ve not done a good job of teaching them how to make winning plays late in the game. I’ve got to accept the responsibility. It hurts to say that. But we’ve got to make winning plays. We’ve got boys out there that I’ve coached  for a couple years or more and they still don’t make winning plays. That’s not their fault.” 

Danville led for most of the game. Lincoln got one point before the opening tip, with a technical on Danville during warmups putting Phillips on the foul line. He sank just one shot. Spencer Baird Lincoln’s first basket for a 3-2 lead in the first quarter only to have Thornton answer with a 3-pointer to put the Ads on top 5-3.

The Admirals would not trail again until that final Frye bucket. They posted an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 19-13 at the half. It was in the third quarter that Danville distanced itself from Lincoln, breaking on a 14-4 quarter-opening run. 

Thornton nailed two 3-pointers and added a bucket in the run and Tanner Ford, DeShaud St. Martin and Jared Southerland added a bucket apiece for Danville’s largest lead of the game, 33-17. Riley Bodner scored Lincoln’s two goals in the run.

“We didn’t attack early. Their defense or zone caused us a lot of problems,” said Jackson. “We were very hesitant, very stagnant. The second half, especially late, we got the ball and pushed it better.”

The margin would be at 37-27 going into the final frame, with Phillips scoring eight points in the final 3:16 of the period and Frye hitting inside.

Blake Smith hit a 3-pointer midway through the fourth and followed with a bucket to get Lincoln within 39-32 before Jaleel Warren went in for a Danville dunk and Southerland added two free throws to make it 43-32 and set up the Pats’ comeback run.

“You’ve got to give Lincoln credit,” McKinney said. “They made shots, made plays. That’s why Coach Jackson is Coach Jackson. He finds ways to win these games and his kids respond and make winning plays.”

Jackson, with few players on his squad with extensive varsity experience, was concerned that getting a win against Danville might be a difficult task.

“We’re young. Most haven’t had much experience and been in that type of situation in a district game. So we were a little worried coming in about our mental approach,” he said. 

“But we did win and that’s good. Any win is a good win, but a district win on the road against a very good, very well-coached team is just a huge plus for our young kids.”

at Danville

Lincoln 4 9 14 20 – 47
Danville 11 8 18 9 – 46

LINCOLN (8-8) – Blake Smith 5, Elijah Frye 11, Jaxon Smith 2, Chase Phillips 22, Spencer Baird 3, Riley Bodner 4.
DANVILLE (5-9) – DeShaud St. Martin 6, David Walker 4, Jared Southerland 8, Zach Thornton 18, Tanner Ford 6, Jaleel Warren 4.