2nd-half surge propels Pats past Raiders

Published 10:27 am Thursday, January 24, 2019

STANFORD — The Lincoln County Patriots rebounded from a two-game losing streak to rout McCreary Central.

The Patriots took a step forward after dropping back-to-back losses to Madison Central and Paul Laurence Dunbar over the weekend, erupting for 46 second-half points Tuesday night to break open a close game and roll past the visiting Raiders 67-45.

“We had a terrible weekend,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “But we rolled our sleeves up. We told our kids we were going to put those two behind us and go to work. And we did.”

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Lincoln (13-9) led just 12-7 after the first quarter and was clinging to a 21-20 lead at the half when the Patriots exploded on McCreary. They used a 23-9 third-quarter scoring surge to distance themselves from the Raiders then closed on a 23-16 run to earn the lopsided win.

“The first half their combination defense caused us a little indecisiveness. We didn’t move the ball as well, but I thought we maintained a chemistry and focus. We didn’t force a whole lot. I thought we had some good shots,” said Jackson. “The second half, I thought our defensive intensity got going a little bit and we were able to get some transition baskets and we were able to open it up a little bit.”

The game got off to a slow start, with both teams scoreless over the first two minutes, 58 seconds of action. Lincoln center Riley Bodner sank two free throws to give the Patriots their first lead, 2-0.

There would be no lead change.

Senior guard Blake Smith and freshman guard Jaxon Smith helped keep Lincoln out front with each scoring 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Blake went 4-for-4 at the stripe and Jaxon was 5-for-5.

Lincoln would have a trio of players in double figures at game’s end, with sophomore reserve guard Baylor Mattingly coming off the bench to score 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting. He was 3-for-8 from 3-point range. Mattingly nailed his first trey at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter to break the 2-2 tie.

“Baylor had a great jv game tonight. He shot the ball really well in jv and Coach (Shawn) Conley made the statement that ‘tonight would be a good night for Baylor to get started (shooting good)’ because of the defense they play. They are going to play some zone and some combination,” Jackson said. “They were Diamond and One on Blake to start the game and that’s why we put Baylor in early, because he shot the ball well in jv.”

“He hasn’t shot the ball this year like we know he can. Baylor’s been shooting the ball well in practice. He has lit it up in practice. Tonight he had a really good jv game and it carried over.”

Elijah Frye followed Mattingly’s 3 with his own trey for an 8-4 Lincoln lead. Alex Heath answered with a 3-pointer for McCreary to get the Raiders within 8-7 but the Patriots would score the game’s next six points. Blake Smith sank two free throws and Darius Napier followed with a layup to put the Patriots up 12-7 at the end of the first quarter, then Jaxon Smith scored on a putback to open the second quarter to make it 14-7.

Lincoln was up 16-10 in the second when McCreary put together its own run. Cox, who led the Raiders with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, opened the 10-4 run with a 3-pointer then added a bucket later. Brandon Longmire also hit a 3 then, with 1:26 left in the first half, Nick Longmire scored to deadlock the game at 20-all.

Neither team would get a shot to fall over the remainder of the half, but Napier would sink a free throw to edge Lincoln on top 21-20 at the break.

Despite coming into the game with a 6-15 record, Jackson said he knew that McCreary would be a tough opponent.

“We knew they would come in here and fight,” he said. “Yes, they have more losses. But you look at how many of those losses are by 3, 4, 2, 5 (points), overtime, and they’ve been playing some good people. He (McCreary coach Wade Davis Jr.) has done a really good job with them.”

The game changed quickly in the third quarter as Lincoln rolled off the first eight points of the second half. Jaxon Smith opened the half with a three-point play and Blake Smith followed with a layup and a trey to extend the Patriot lead to 29-20.

A Cox layup and a jumper by Alex Heath pulled McCreary within 32-26 midway through the third but that would be as close as the Raiders would get. Lincoln outscored McCreary 12-3 in the final 2:44 to open up the game.

Jaxon Smith would score six points in the run, including the opening bucket. Frye, Bryson Yaden and Blake Smith all hit inside to give Lincoln a 44-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Patriots secured the big win with a 23-16 finish. Mattingly and Jaxon Smith both had six points in the fourth, with Mattingly getting his points from 3-points out. Napier also had a 3-pointer. Blake Smith had four points and Yaden and Frye both had two.

“I’m really, really pleased with the win,” Jackson said. “I thought Riley and Bryson did a good on the glass. I thought we did some good things tonight.”

Bodner led Lincoln in a 34-21 win on the boards by pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds. Yaden grabbed eight boards. Cox led McCreary with seven rebounds.

Lincoln shot 47.1 percent from the field, going 24-for-51 overall, 6-for-17 from 3-point range. The Patriots were 13-for-17 at the foul line.

McCreary finished at 35.6 percent on 16-for-45 shooting, 5-for-14 from 3. The Raiders were 8-for-10 at the line.

At Lincoln Co.

McCreary 7 13 9 16 – 45
Lincoln 12 9 23 23 – 67

MCCREARY (6-16) – Caleb Cox 14, Evan Kidd 2, Blake Corder 10, Brandon Longmire 6, Alex Heath 5, Nick Longmire 5, Nathaniel Griffis 3.

LINCOLN (13-9) – Blake Smith 17, Bryson Yaden 4, Elijah Frye 8, Darius Napier 6, Jaxon Smith 17, Baylor Mattingly 11, Riley Bodner 4.