Lincoln girls return to winning ways

Published 12:43 pm Thursday, February 21, 2019

LIBERTY — Following their worst two weeks of the season, the 13th-ranked Lincoln County Lady Patriots ended their three-game skid by taking down host Casey County 75-56 Friday night.

Lincoln, coming off losses to 2nd-ranked Ryle, Mercer County and 23rd-ranked Danville, got off to a strong start in its regular-season finale, with Trinity Shearer bombing in two 3-point shots and Emma King adding her own triple as the Lady Patriots jumped ahead 9-2.

Lincoln never trailed in the 12th Region contest. The Lady Patriots (21-6) built on their lead for the next three quarters before posting the 19-point win.

“You play a season for a reason,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “You don’t just start the season with tournament time, you play a season and we had some hiccups and bumps along the way at times, but I’m really proud of how we’ve bounced back. And I knew that we would. It was just regaining that confidence and getting back to how we started – the attitude we had at the beginning of the year and the game being fun again – and they realized that had to start on the defensive end.”

Friday’s win also avenged a 71-65 loss to Casey on Jan. 26, a loss where Lincoln struggled defensively.

“The first time we played them, give the credit to Casey. They played a great game. They shot the ball well,” McWhorter said. “We had Maddy (Boyle) dealing with cramps that day. (Kaitlynn) Wilks didn’t feel good that day. And I’m not making excuses, Casey played really well. But we didn’t play our ‘A’ game. We didn’t bring it defensively that game like I know we are capable of. We really stressed defense all week at practice … We’ve just had a really focused week of practice. And we did what we needed to do tonight to win.”

King led a trio of Lady Patriots in double figures in the win, scoring a game-high 26 points. She also had seven rebounds. Maddy Boyle bolstered the Lady Patriot offense with 18 second-half points and Trinity Shearer pushed in 14 points. Kaitlynn Wilks, who just missed double figures with nine points, finished just five rebounds shy of 1,000 career grabs as she led Lincoln in a 27-15 win on the glass with eight rebounds.

The Lady Patriots effectively shut down the Lady Rebels from the opening tip. Casey was just 1-for-4 (25 percent) in the first three minutes, 14 seconds and finished at 39 percent overall, going 18-for-46 from the field, 5-for-22 from 3-point range. Lincoln was constantly deflecting passes away and Boyle managed to shut down Casey’s leading scorer, Gena Cravens, in the first half.

“I think Maddy did a really good job defensively the first half. We had her on Cravens and she had a tough task on her because the other night against Danville and overall, she (Cravens) has been their leading scorer,” McWhorter said. “She did a good job of stepping up her defense and I think that fed into her offensive play the second half. She was pumped that she had held her to just three points.”

Casey (21-8) would pick up its offensive effort in the second quarter, nearly matching Lincoln’s scoring. The Lady Patriots would edge the Lady Rebels, though, 16-15, to make it a 32-23 ballgame at the break.

Natalie Duggins sank two free throws for Casey to start the second half to get the Lady Rebels within 32-25 but that would be as close as Lincoln would allow. The Lady Patriots answered Duggins’ foul shots with a 10-2 run to quickly open up a 42-27 lead. Zaria Napier opened the run with a 3-pointer, Boyle followed with a jumper, Wilks hit inside, King had a free throw toss and Shearer closed with a rebound and jumper for the 15-point margin.

The Lady Patriots took a 52-37 led into the fourth quarter.

It was in the final period that the shots started falling for Boyle. The senior guard scored 16 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter, opening the period with a 3-pointer. She added another 3, four field goals and sank two free throws to help Lincoln earn the lopsided win.

McWhorter said that, in the preseason, every girl on the team was asked to pick one word that described the one thing they could do day in and day out for the team and that Boyle’s word was drive – something she brought to the floor Friday.

“Her word was drive and it wasn’t necessarily drive the basket. It was the drive to bring it every day because she knows her teammates feed off of her,” she said. “And I thought she did that for a complete game tonight. She’s done it before but the drive, the passion, the pep in her step was there tonight and I loved it.”

Lincoln shot 56 percent from the field in the win, connecting on 30 of 53 shot attempts, 9 of 14 from 3. The Lady Patriots were 6-for-10 at the foul line.

Casey was 15-for-19 at the line.

Like Lincoln, Casey also had three players in double figures, led by Lauren Lee with 19 points. Duggins finished with 13 points and Cravens had 12.

*****
At Casey Co.

Lincoln 16 16 20 23 – 75
Casey 8 15 14 19 – 56

LINCOLN (21-6) – Emma King 26, Kaitlynn Wilks 9, Maddy Boyle 18, Trinity Shearer 14, Zaria Napier 3, Anna Lane 2, Lydia Rice 3.

CASEY (21-8) – Gena Cravens 12, Lauren Lee 19, Natalie Duggins 13, Jordyn Stephens 2, Shaylah Wilkey 7, Makenzie Cundiff 3.