Lincoln falls 61-53 to Boyle Rebels

Published 12:36 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018

By Matt Overing

STANFORD — In the battle of the unbeaten 45th District boys teams at Lincoln County Friday night, it was the visiting Boyle County Rebels and not the host Patriots that had their perfect record intact at the final horn.

The Rebels ended a six-game skid with a 61-53 win over the Patriots with a balanced scoring attack and a strong second-half defensive effort.

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Boyle head coach Steve Adams said he and his team weren’t worried about any losing streak between the two teams — he knows each team has ups and downs. The two teams have met at least three times in the past six seasons.

“We’re not worried about that, we’re worried about us getting better and what we do to get us prepared for district and region,” Adams said. “This series with Lincoln is probably one of the best rivalries in the state. We beat them four or five times, they went on a run, now who knows? It’s just a big rivalry, teams playing hard and trying to improve.”

The Rebels were led by their seniors — Jason Alexander had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, Bryce Slone had 15 points and  seven rebounds, and Will Bramel had six boards and four assists of his own.

Lincoln received a big boost from Elijah Frye off of the bench — Frye led all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.

“He’s playing really well,” Lincoln head coach Jeff Jackson said. “He scores for us, guards for us. He’s a great kid and he plays his tail off. He does good things and gives us energy off of the bench, and he can score. He plays the game with no fear, he just plays. We’re excited to have him around for a couple more years.”

The Patriots were without big man Riley Bodner due to illness. Bodner averages five points and five rebounds per game.

But Jackson said he was proud of the way his team battled against an experienced Boyle team.
“They’ve got a heck of a basketball team, they’re very well coached and they’re experienced,” Jackson said. “They made plays down the stretch when they ended to. I thought both teams played hard, our effort was good. We just had some breakdowns defensively, communication breakdowns that hurt us. They played like a seasoned team.”

Boyle relied on some youth as well in the game — sophomore Reese Smith had 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Grant Hotchkiss and Cameron Yates, two more sophomores, combined for 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor.

“Relatively speaking, minus Baby J and Bryce — who are aggravating at times because they are seniors and they should understand and know — other than that, we’re a relatively young team,” Adams said. “So we’re going to make mistakes as we’re learning. Good thing is we made them in pressure situations and we were still able to win the game. We’ll be able to look at our mistakes, hopefully fix those and still improve and do the things that we do well even better.”

But Adams didn’t like the way his offense let the Patriots back into the game in the second quarter: After a strong 22-13 lead after eight minutes, Lincoln stormed back in the second quarter to make it a 32-29 game at halftime.

“To start the first quarter, we’re doing things just like we practiced, we’re active defensively, we’re in the gaps, we’re pushing the ball, attacking the middle of the floor, doing everything we need to do,” Adams said. “Second quarter we thought ‘well maybe that’s too easy, let’s make it difficult.’ We didn’t guard and didn’t run transition the way we were supposed to. We fiddle-farted around and made things tough. When you do that, it’s a rivalry game, you let a team get happy, when the whistle blows you never know what it’s going to be. So you’ve got to control your own destiny, you can’t put it in other people’s hands.”

The Rebels had extended their lead to 45-36 going into the final frame, outpointing the Patriots 13-7 in the third quarter. Lincoln would outpoint Boyle in the fourth quarter, however, the 17-16 edge would not be enough to overtake the Rebels.

The two teams met again in a rare Wednesday game after weather postponed the earlier doubleheader at Boyle County.

For both teams, the focus will be on pivotal district games over the next week and the postseason.

“It’s a great rivalry. Two good teams, two teams that played really hard,” Jackson said. “We’re getting better, we’re doing some good things. We can’t have breakdowns against them. But any time we play, it’s a good game. I’m proud of my kids and the effort that they gave. We’ve just got a lot of work to do between now and the district tournament, we’ve just got to keep progressing and getting better.”

Honoring Marshall County

Before the game, the two teams and fans on both sides shared a moment of silence to honor Marshall County.

Lincoln County head coach Jeff Jackson was at Marshall County for six years and said he keeps contact with close friends there.

“The present coach at Marshall County played for coach Jackson at Marshall County,” Boyle head coach Steve Adams said. “I know him as well, we were at the state tournament at the same time. There’s still a lot of special people there for coach Jackson and his family that he still stays in contact with. That’s hitting close to home. We wanted to help support him, the Lincoln County basketball family and the Marshall County family.”

Jackson was appreciative of the Rebels’ gesture.

“I appreciate Steve and his staff and players circling up before the game for Marshall County High School,” he said. “I taught there for six years, I know some people who work there. It’s hard right now, that aspect of it. They started back to school today. That plays a lot on my mind and my heart because I do have close relations with a lot of people there.”

at Lincoln Co.

Lincoln Co. 13 16 7 17 — 53
Boyle Co. 22 10 13 16 — 61

LINCOLN (10-13, 2-1) – Elijah Frye 18, Blake Smith 10, Spencer Baird 9, Chase Phillips 7, Jaxon Smith 7, Bryson Yaden 2.
BOYLE (11-5, 4-0) – Jason Alexander 17, Bryce Slone 15, Reese Smith 13, Grant Hotchkiss 8, Cameron Yates 6, Will Bramel 2.