Blake Smith scores 1,000th point in win

Published 12:47 pm Thursday, February 21, 2019

LIBERTY — The Lincoln County Patriot basketball team closed the book on a successful 2018-19 regular season Friday night at Casey County, capping off the campaign with a 65-55 win over the host Rebels.

The “W” came after an intense battle between the 12th Region foes, where the lead wavered between one and three points for most of the first half, with five the largest lead. The game was deadlocked at 12-all at the end of the first and Casey held to a 27-26 lead at the half.

An incredible 25-8 run by Lincoln (18-12) in the second half proved to be the game changer, though, helping the Patriots to break open the close game and set themselves on course for the win.

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“We just played much better, much harder the second half and made some shots,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “The first half they got all the loose balls and killed us on the offensive glass. When the ball got knocked loose, they were beating us to it. In the second half, I thought our defensive effort was better and I thought our aggressiveness of going after the ball the second half was better and we got the loose basketballs.”

Casey held a 29-28 lead when Lincoln began its game-changing run midway through the third quarter. After nine lead changes and two ties, Darius Napier, who finished with eight points, opened the run with a bucket to put the Patriots in front for good. Jaxon Smith, Blake Smith and Riley Bodner scored a bucket apiece over the remainder of the period to make it 36-33, Lincoln, going into the fourth quarter.

Blake Smith, who led the Patriots with 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting, scored nine of his points during Lincoln’s scoring surge, including seven straight points to open the fourth quarter as the lead grew to 43-33.

Smith’s 17 points not only helped lead Lincoln to the win, those points helped push him over 1,000 points for this high school career. The senior guard needed 11 points going into the game to reach the scoring milestone.

“It was a big night for Blake,” said Jackson. “ I was real happy for him. He’s worked awfully hard to make that happen. The kids fed him the ball and were really happy for him. Our kids really went at him and got him the ball. He hit some good shots.”

Lincoln would lead by as many as 16 points in the final period. Napier and Elijah Frye, who had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, knocked down four points apiece in the fourth before Bodner, who finished with nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds, stepped to the foul line for two free throws to put Lincoln up 53-37 with 2:46 left in the ballgame.

However, that margin would dwindle before the final horn sounded as missed buckets and a turnover by the Patriots opened the door for a Casey rally. The Rebels (14-16) took advantage of the misses and miscue to chip away at the deficit. Maximo Reyes, who had a game-high 24 points, Blake Caudill and Micah Pendleton all hit from 3-points out in the final 2:30, with Pendleton draining two 3s. Pendleton also added a field goal and two free throws in the final minutes and Benjamin McDonald sank two free throws to get the Rebels within 10 before the final buzzer.

“I said, ‘We’re playing like we’re behind, guys,’” Jackson said to his team in a timeout. “Slow down. Spread the floor. Wide open layups or free throws are all you need to take, and we rushed a couple shots, had an unforced turnover, missed a layup. Those are things you’ve got to do next week to put yourself in position to win.”

Lincoln shot 47.1 percent at Casey, going 24-for-51 from the field, 3-for-19 from 3. The Patriots were 14-for-19 at the foul line.

Casey shot 34.5 percent from the field, going 19-for-55, 4-for-23 from 3. The Rebels were 13-for-15 at the line.

Lincoln outrebounded Casey 36-25.

“I’m just proud of our kids,” said Jackson. “They (Rebels) have got a good team. This is always a tough place to play but a great place to play. I love playing down here. It’s always hard. The atmosphere with the crowd and the competitiveness of both teams. It’s just a special place to come into and get a win.”

At Casey Co.

Lincoln 12 14 10 29 – 65
Casey 12 15 6 22 – 55

LINCOLN (18-12) – Blake Smith 17, Elijah Frye 14, Darius Napier 8, Jaxon Smith 10, Baylor Mattingly 5, Bryson Yaden 2, Riley Bodner 9.

CASEY (14-16) – Michael Christian 6, Maximo Reyes 24, Micah Pendleton 9, Blake Caudill 6, Benjamin McDonald 4, Spencer Baird 6.