Patriots hang on in OT; outlast LexCath 64-61

Published 12:46 pm Thursday, February 14, 2019

STANFORD — The Lincoln County Patriot basketball team closed out its regular season home schedule Tuesday night with a sweep of Lexington Catholic.

In the freshman/jv/varsity triple header, the varsity Patriots capped off the night in a thriller, holding off the visiting Knights 64-61 in overtime.

“We went 3-0 today. Our freshmen won, our jv won and the varsity won. I’m real proud of our kids,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “They (Knights) shoot the ball so daggone well. They’re well-coached and they guard your tail off. They’ve got such a good program. Brandon (Salsman, LexCath coach) does a great job.”

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Lincoln, which led by eight points with 4:37 left in the fourth quarter, had to battle from behind to claim the win after LexCath (13-15) erased the eight-point deficit to take a 53-50 lead as time was running out in regulation. That’s when sophomore reserve guard Baylor Mattingly stepped to the right wing and fired in a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime.

The Knights appeared headed for the victory as they opened up a 61-56 lead in the overtime with just 1:34 to play. The Patriots would not go down, though, with Mattingly stepping to the right wing again with 1:12 on the clock to ignite an 8-0 run and help earn Lincoln the “W.”

“Baylor hit two big shots. Those were huge, one tying us in regulation,” said Jackson. “We tell our kids you’ve got to be ready. Baylor played really well in the jv game tonight and shot the ball well. We needed shots and we said, ‘Hey, let’s go with him.’ He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

Lincoln, which improved to 17-12 with the win, left its coach smiling at game’s end.

“Our kids …. as Justin Blevins (support staff) said in the locker room, ‘We earned it,’” Jackson said. “We did. We got down five in the overtime and kept fighting and scratching and clawing to make plays when we needed to. Hit some key free throws down the stretch. We did a lot of good things. I’m real, real proud of our kids.”

After Mattingly’s OT 3-pointer, Lincoln’s three leading scorers helped seal the win by knocking down 5 of 6 free throws in the final 34.8 seconds. Blake Smith, who led the team with 21 points on 5-for-14 shooting, 3-for-8 from 3, was 9-for-9 at the foul line overall, sinking the last two free throws of the game. Darius Napier, who finished with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting, 4-for-5 from the foul line, had one free-throw toss in the closing run, and Jaxon Smith, who had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, sank two free throws.

The trio also led Lincoln on the glass, with Blake Smith and Napier each grabbing six rebounds and Jaxon Smith getting five boards.

Ben Johnson, a sophomore guard, paced LexCath with a game-high 31 points on 10-for-24 shooting, 5-for-12 from 3-point range. He led the Knights in a 29-28 win on the glass with seven boards.

Johnson scored all of the Knights’ points in the overtime period, converting on a three-point play and sinking 3 of 5 free throws early to give LexCath the 61-56 lead before Lincoln rallied.

The Patriots led throughout the first quarter and were up 13-9 at the end of the period. Blake Smith knocked down two 3-pointers early to help Lincoln to a 6-1 lead. LexCath would tie the game at 6-6 midway through the first off a Luke Wedding 3-pointer and Johnson field goal before Napier went to the line to break the tie.

Back-to-back 3’s by Johnson and Wedding to start the second quarter gave LexCath its first lead of the game, 15-13. The Knights extended that lead to five by the 4:00 mark, with Ian Rothbaur scoring on a layin and Josh Gowing converting on a three-point play to make it 20-15.

But a 7-0 run over the remainder of the first half pushed Lincoln back on top. Blake Smith scored his own three-point play and Jaxon Smith went inside for two before Blake drove the lane for a bucket and a 22-20 halftime lead.

Lincoln never trailed in the third quarter, outscoring LexCath 20-17 in the period to put the Pat lead at 42-37.

The Knights had tied the game at 33-all off a Johnson 3 before the Pats broke on a 10-2 run. Elijah Frye opened the run with a bucket, Jaxon Smith also had a field goal and Napier scored two field goals, including an inside shot with 39 seconds remaining in the third for a 42-34 Pat lead.

Johnson would close the quarter scoring with a trey to make it a five-point game going into the fourth quarter.

Lincoln’s lead was back to eight in the fourth off two Napier buckets, two Blake Smith free throws and a Frye bucket off a Jaxon Smith assist. However, that lead was wiped out before the end of regulation with Patrick Geoghegan draining a 3-pointer with 4:22 to play to kick start an 11-0 run. Johnson scored three points in the run, Wedding had a 3 and Jackson Smith scored in the paint to give the Knights a 53-50 lead before Mattingly bombed in his game-tying 3-pointer.

“This was a good win,” Jackson repeated. “We did some good things tonight. All the kids that played tonight did some good things. We played hard tonight. I’m proud of our kids.”

Lincoln has just one game left in regular-season play, at Casey County Friday night, with the 45th District Tournament next week at Garrard County Middle School. The Patriots play Boyle County (9-15) in the tournament Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.

“We’ve just got to try to have some good practices in preparation for Friday night but also for the stretch run and try to get ready for the tournament next week,” said Jackson. “It’s going to be a battle.”

At Lincoln Co.

LexCath 9 11 17 16 8 – 61
Lincoln 13 9 20 11 11 – 64

LEX. CATHOLIC (13-15) – Patrick Geoghegan 3, Jackson Smith 4, Ian Rothbaur 4, Carson Caudill 3, Wilson Hampton 2, Luke Wedding 9, Ben Johnson 31, Sam Vaughan 2, John Poulton 3.

LINCOLN (17-12) – Blake Smith 21, Elijah Frye 6, Darius Napier 16, Jaxon Smith 11, Baylor Mattingly 6, Bryson Yaden 4.