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Lincoln survives McCreary late rally; wins 65-59

STEARNS — The McCreary Central boys basketball team did its best to try and upset one of the top teams in the 12th Region and put an end to a six-game skid, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Lincoln, ranked No. 2 in the region, jumped out to as much as a 16-point lead in the first half then saw that lead evaporate as the homestanding Raiders rallied. McCreary got within two points in the third quarter but would get no closer as the Patriots moved on for the 65-59 win Tuesday night.

“We knew it was going to be tough coming down here,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “We’ve seen them play and watched the last two films on them. They’re very competitive, especially the last two games with their district opponents. We’ve watched them improve as the season went on and the (Blake) Corder kid coming back at the point is big. He missed some games early and he’s kind of the glue to their team and does a good job running their team. They played tough tonight.”

Riley Bodner, Jaxon Smith and Bryston Alcorn combined for 47 points to lead Lincoln in the win. Bodner paced the Patriots with a game-high 19 points, Smith followed close behind with 17 points and Alcorn finished with 11 points. It was a double-double night for Bodner, with the senior center also grabbing 10 rebounds in a 29-19 win on the glass.

The Patriots (15-6) held a double-digit lead over the Raiders when it came to shooting. Lincoln went 47 percent from the field overall on 25-for-53 shooting, with nine 3-point field goals, for 59 points, while McCreary went 40 percent on 19-for-47 shooting, with six 3’s, for 44 points. The Raiders used the foul line to cut into the Patriots’ scoring advantage, though, converting on 15 of 18 trips to the charity stripe. The Patriots were 6-for-11 at the line.

The Lincoln offense came out hot, as the Patriots hit 8 of their first 15 field goals for a 21-8 lead in the first quarter. Bodner scored eight of his total points in the first quarter to spark the offense. Alcorn drained two 3-pointers in the first, Smith also hit from 3 and added two free throws and Frye went inside for a layin.

The largest lead of the game, 16 points, was posted twice early in the second quarter. Bodner hit back-to-back buckets to open the period for a 25-9 advantage then, after two Central free throws, Frye drove inside to make it a 27-11 ballgame with 6:14 to play in the first half.

Central (7-14) used an 8-0 run to cut the Lincoln lead to single digits midway through the second quarter. Trent Conatser and Evan Kidd hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Trey Davis drove inside for a bucket to make it 27-19. Lincoln would answer the run with two straight 3-pointers from Alcorn and Baylor Mattingly to push the Patriots back up 33-19.

The Raiders were within 33-28 late in the half after a Blake Corder bucket and a Connor Campbell trey but the Patriots took a 38-28 lead into the break thanks to an Alcorn layup and a quarter-ending 3 from Colton Ralston.

The Lincoln lead teetered between 11 and 8 points in the third quarter before Central broke on a late run to threaten that lead. With 2:53 on the clock, Campbell, who had 10 points for the Raiders, hit inside to ignite the 9-0 run then followed with a three-point play. The run culminated in a four-point play, with Corder getting fouled by Frye on a 3-point shot then sinking the foul shot to get the Raiders within 47-45 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.

Ralston bombed in his second 3-point goal to end the Raider run and put Lincoln up 50-45. The team took a 52-47 lead into the fourth quarter.

Frye connected for a field goal and a 3-pointer to extend the Pat lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter only to see the Raiders surge again. Frye’s trey set off a string of four straight 3’s. Alex Heath, who led Central with 14 points, and Kyle Stephens hit back-to-back 3’s for the Raiders and Smith answered from long range for Lincoln to keep the margin at 61-53. Stephens scored a bucket with 3:21 to play to cut the Pat lead to 61-55.

Central got no closer the rest of the way. Lincoln retook a 65-55 lead late in the game off a Smith layup and two free throws then held on to post the 65-59 win.

“They’ve got a good basketball team and they’re well coached,” Jackson said of Central. “We, as a staff, knew it was going to be tough. It wasn’t the most pretty thing in the world but it was a win and we will take it. This is a very, very difficult place to play. It was a good win, a hard-fought win.”

“We’re excited to go back home 3-0. Freshman, jv, varsity – we won all three games and all were really close.”

At McCreary Central

Lincoln 21 17 14 13 – 65

McCreary 9 19 19 12 – 59

LINCOLN (15-6) – Bryston Alcorn 11, Elijah Frye 9, Jaxon Smith 17, Baylor Mattingly 3, Colton Ralston 6, Riley Bodner 19.

MCCREARY CENTRAL (7-14) – Brandon Longmire 6, Blake Corder 8, Evan Kidd 5, Connor Campbell 10, Alex Heath 14, Trent Conatser 7, Trey Davis 4, Kyle Stephens 5.