Patriot Classic Blake Smith’s 3 lifts LC over Hoptown

Published 11:20 am Friday, January 11, 2019

STANFORD — The clock was running down on the final game of the Patriot Classic Saturday night and Lincoln was teetering on the edge of a third straight loss.

The seconds kept disappearing until Blake Smith stopped his dribble, pulled up and launched the game-winning shot.

With the score tied at 41-41, the senior guard’s jumper swished with 2 seconds remaining, lifting Lincoln County to a 43-41 win over Hopkinsville.

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The basket set off pandemonium on the Lincoln sideline and among the Lincoln fans filling J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium as the buzzer sounded on the game. However, the celebration would have to wait, with Hopkinsville calling a timeout immediately after the basket. Officials called for 1.7 seconds to be put back on the clock and, after two Hopkinsville timeouts and one Lincoln timeout, the Tigers inbounded the ball and James Nicholas heaved up a halfcourt shot, but it missed its mark.

Smith would pace Lincoln in the win, finishing with a game-high 16 points. He and Elijah Frye both finished in double figures, with Frye tallying 11 points.

Smith’s shot completed a furious comeback effort in a game that saw 15 lead changes and six ties, with the Tigers (8-8) ahead at the end of the first three quarterstops.

The Patriots (10-6) trailed for a span of 8 minutes 34 seconds before Smith put up his game-winner. The lead flip-flopped four times in the third quarter, with Riley Bodner, who finished with five points and a game-high 10 rebounds, converting on a 3-point play for Lincoln’s second lead of the period, 31-30. But Nicholas, who finished with nine points and nine boards for the Tigers, drained a 3-pointer off a Lincoln turnover with 36.4 seconds left in the third to make it 33-31, Hoptown.

The Tigers maintained the lead until Smith’s final bucket, leading by as many as six points. Their lead was 41-35 after a Reece Jesse slam dunk at the 1:11 mark.

But Hoptown would not score again.

In the final minute, Blake Smith sank two free throws, Jaxon Smith went coast-to-coast off a steal then Blake Smith drove inside to deadlock the game at 41-all before capping off the night with his game-winning jumper.

Neither team shot well in the contest, with Lincoln shooting 35 percent from the field (14-for-40 overall, 6-for-16 from 3) and Hopkinsville shooting 38.1 percent (16-for-42, 5-for-14 from 3). At the foul line, the Patriots were 9-for-17 compared to 4-for-7 for the Tigers.

The Patriots missed their first five shot attempts and turned the ball over three times in the first 4 minutes, one second of the action. Hopkinsville, which looked intimidating as it took the floor with 7-2 center Jamarion Sharp in the middle, also struggled early by missing its first five shots while turning the ball over four times.

Blake Smith finally ended the early-game scoring drought when he bombed in a 3-pointer at the 3:59 mark. Frye followed with a driving layup for a 5-0 Lincoln lead. Jesse got Hopkinsville on the scoreboard with a bucket in the paint with 3:10 left in the period. Authur McKnight added a trey to knot the game at 5-5 and Tefrell Toliver followed with a bucket to give the Tigers their first lead.

Smith knocked down his second of three 3-pointers in the game to edge the Patriots back on top and Frye added a free throw toss for a 9-7 lead. The Tigers would be on top at the end of the first, though, with DeEvan Williams scoring his only bucket, a 3-pointer, to make it 10-9.

The lead changed hands six times in the second quarter. Lincoln led 11-10 off a Bodner bucket, 13-12 and 19-16 after a Jaxon Smith putback and a 3-pointer and 22-18 after a Bryston Alcorn trey. The score was tied at 23-all before Sharp hit a buzzer-beater to make it 25-23, Tigers, at the break.

Hopkinsville had its best shooting effort in the second quarter, going 7-for-12 from the field. Jacarius Burks, who led the Tigers with 11 points and had seven rebounds, scored his team’s first eight points of the period starting with a backboard-jarring slam dunk.

Frye nailed a 3-pointer with 6:48 left in the third to give Lincoln a 26-25 edge then followed with a driving layup to make it 28-25. Bodner converted on his 3-point play late in the period for the Patriots final lead, 31-30, until Smith’s closing bucket.

Hopkinsville outrebounded Lincoln 30-22. The Patriots had 11 turnovers to the Tigers’ 17.

Patriot Classic
At Lincoln Co.

Hopkinsville 10 15 8 8 – 41
Lincoln 9 14 8 12 – 43
HOPKINSVILLE (8-8) – McKnight 6, Williams 3, Nicholas 9, Richards 2, Jesse 6, Burks 11, Toliver 2, Sharp 2.

LINCOLN (10-6) – Bryston Alcorn 3, Blake Smith 16, Elijah Frye 11, Jaxon Smith 8, Riley Bodner 5.