Team manager Blevins gets start in Senior Night rout

Published 12:47 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

STANFORD — A Lincoln County High School senior received a standing ovation after scoring his first two points for the Patriot basketball team.

Friday night the Patriots took to their home court for the last time this season as they hosted Casey County, and they had little trouble handling the visitors, rolling to a 73-41 Senior Night victory.

Senior Night was special not only because of the win but because it was when the coaches and school honored its seniors – Patriot Chase Phillips and team managers Tatum Newcomb, TT Wilkinson and Justin Blevins. The night was made extra special, though, when the coaches and players decided to put Blevins in the game.

Blevins, who has served as the team’s manager for the past three years, was born with a heart defect that stunted his growth, but that didn’t stop him from getting his first career start and a standing ovation.

“We love him and he is a part of us,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “The players came to us early in the week and wanted to have a meeting because they wanted to do something special for him. They said, ‘Coach, can we do something special for Justin? We’d like for him to dress and play and start.’ …  We checked with the KHSAA and cleared everything with them and (Travis) Leffew (Athletic Director) and Casey County. It was just so special. He means so much to us.”

“Jaxon Smith (starting guard) said, ‘Coach, he can have my spot. I’d be honored for him to start in my place,’” added Jackson. “That tells you a little bit about the character of the kids in our program and the impact that Justin has had on everybody. We love him. He loves us. We’re a pretty close group. It was a special locker room scene.”

And when Blevins scored Lincoln’s first field goal, putting the ball up in the paint, the crowd erupted into cheers and he got another standing ovation.

“The student section was incredible cheering for him and all our seniors. The crowd was great. Casey was excited about being a part of it,” Jackson said. “Senior Night is always special but Justin getting a chance to go out there and play and get introduced and then score was one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of in 30-some odd years of coaching.”

Casey’s Benjamin McDonald scored the first bucket of the game to give the Rebels (3-27) their only lead of the game as Blevins’ bucket ignited a 14-0 Lincoln run. Bryson Yaden and Blake Smith, who had a game-high 19 points, both knocked down 3-pointers in the run, with Smith hitting two 3’s. Yaden also hit inside and Jaxon Smith, who finished with 15 points, sank a free throw.

Lincoln (13-17) never trailed again. The Patriots extended their lead to 23-8 by the end of the first quarter, with Phillips bombing in a 3-pointer from mid court at the buzzer to make it a 15-point ballgame.

Casey did outscore Lincoln 15-12 in the second quarter to trim the Patriots’ lead to 35-23. However, the Patriots were back on a roll in the third quarter, using an 18-10 run to take a 53-33 lead into the fourth quarter, then closed on a 20-8 run for the lopsided win.

“We played well. It was a good night for everybody,” said Jackson. “And it was a special night for our seniors. Just like Justin, Chase has meant so much to our program. Chase has worked his tail off to be a good basketball player. He’s really, really over-achieved and he’s a great student. Tate and TT are special kids as well. They’ve been around our program and work hard and just want to be a part of the team. I think all four seniors are going to be very successful and they will be missed when they leave here.”

Lincoln shot 48 percent from the field overall, going 27-for-56. The Patriots connected for 10 3-pointers. At the foul line, the team was 9-for-15.

Casey finished at 31 percent from the field, going 15-for-49 overall. The Rebels had three 3’s in the game and went 8-for-17 at the line.

Yaden just missed double figures, finishing with nine points for the Pats.

Michael Christian led Casey with nine points.

******

at Lincoln

Casey. 29 22 10 16 – 77
Lincoln 16 10 17 23 – 66

CASEY (3-27) – Benjamin McDonald 5, Michael Christian 9, Dustin Richards 6, Colby Brown 5, Ryan Luna 4, Micah Pendleton 8, Austin Young 2, Rylan Buis 2. 
LINCOLN (13-17) – Justin Blevins 4, Bryston Alcorn 3, Bryson Yaden 9, Blake Smith 19, Elijah Frye 7, Jaxson Smith 15, Chase Phillips 8, Darius Napier 1, Sawyer Carrier 1, Preston Durham 2, Riley Bodner 4.