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S-N-A-P-P-E-D: Lincoln girls suffer first loss to Garrard since 2006

STANFORD — All good things must come to an end, and for the Lincoln County girls basketball team, that was the case with its 36-game win streak against 45th District rival Garrard County Friday night.

The Lady Patriots found themselves down 33-17 at the half and could not recover, as the Lady Lions picked up the 56-52 win at J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium.

“We got ourselves in a hole early. Credit Garrard County for coming out and making some shots,” Lincoln County coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “They were knocking down the 3’s, They had seven 3’s in the first half. They were ready. And I think we had some emotions with it being ‘White Out’ (to honor the late Jamie Releford – father of Lady Pat Haleigh Releford). But the bottom line, Garrard came out ready. Our defensive intensity was not what it needed to be.”

For Lincoln, the loss snapped a win streak that dated back to Dec. 11, 2006 and dropped the team to 12-13 overall, 4-2 in the district. The win bumped Garrard, which edged Lincoln 48-47 in the 2006 tilt, to 13-11 overall, 2-4 in the district.

Neither team shot exceptionally well, with Lincoln connecting on 31.4 percent of its shots (16-for-51) while Garrard shot 34.8 percent (16-for-46). Lincoln would outscore Garrard at the foul line, sinking 18 of 29 shot attempts. Garrard was 15-for-22. The Lady Lions earned their advantage over the Lady Patriots from long range, going 9-for-24 from 3-point range. The Lady Pats were just 2-for-15 from 3.

Carolina Gonzalez and Jade Pevley led the Garrard offense with a game-high 19 points apiece. Gonzalez earned her 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting, going 5-for-9 from 3-point range. Pevley went 5-for-9 from the field and 9-for-11 at the foul line. Madisyn Neeley also hit double figures for the Lady Lions, scoring 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Garrard had the 3’s raining down early to distance itself from Lincoln, bombing in seven of its nine treys to open up the 33-17 halftime lead.

Neeley, Gonzalez and Brittany Buttner each knocked down a 3 in the first half of the first quarter to ease the Lady Lions ahead 9-2. Talynne Shearer, who led Lincoln with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and Savannah Robbins, who finished with 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting, 6-for-8 at the line, helped lead a 10-4 Lady Pat rally to pull the team within 13-12. Chloe Ralston and Haleigh Ellison also scored in the run. Garrard led 16-12 at the end of the first.

It was in the second quarter that Garrard opened up the game.

Gonzalez bombed in two more 3’s in the second quarter and Buttner hit her second trey to help Garrard extend its lead. The Lady Lions outscored the Lady Patriots 17-5 in the period to put the margin at 33-17 at the break. Pevley sank four free throws and scored two putbacks in the second-quarter surge.

Lincoln got just two shots to fall in the second quarter. It took the Lady Patriots 3 minutes, 4 seconds to generate their first shot, with Shearer hitting to stop a string of misses. The team didn’t score again until just 1:10 remained in the half, with Ellison getting the bucket.

“The second quarter was huge,” said McWhorter. “They outscored us 17-5 second quarter to pull ahead. Some shots weren’t going down for us and our defensive intensity let down when those shots weren’t going in.”

As bleak as it looked for Lincoln in the first half, the Lady Patriots almost pulled off a comeback in the second half, whittling the Lady Lion lead down from 17 points to two late in the game.

Lincoln used a 14-3 third-quarter scoring run to close the gap and threaten the Garrard lead. Robbins ignited the run with a bucket in the paint then added a free throw toss. Shearer and Lydia Rice followed with a bucket and two free throws apiece. Ralston put up a field goal and Ally Lynn capped the run with a free throw to make it 36-31 with 55.4 seconds left in the third.

The third ended with Garrard on top 38-31 after a quarter-ending shot by Gonzalez.

Gonzalez bombed in her last two 3’s midway through the fourth quarter to put Garrard up 49-38 with 3:06 to play. The Lady Lions would need the double-digit cushion to hold off the Lady Patriots as Lincoln used a 14-5 run to make it a two-point ball game with under 10 seconds to play.

Shearer went coast-to-coast off a steal to open the run. She also bombed in a 3-pointer in the run and sank a free throw. Haleigh Releford got a bucket and free throw and Robbins sank two free throws before Ralston drained a 3-pointer to get Lincoln within 54-52 with 8.2 seconds to go.

Lincoln got no closer. Gonzalez sank a free throw on the other end then Pevley picked off a Lincoln inbounds pass and was fouled. She sank both free throws for the 56-52 final.

“We challenged them at halftime. Very proud of them for how they responded. Instead of dropping their heads, we scrapped and we fought back and did a lot of positive things in the third quarter,” said McWhorter. “But Garrard responded again in the fourth quarter. We dug ourselves a hole and tried to dig it out but Garrard did a good job of making sure that they stayed on top.”

“The biggest difference is they hit nine 3’s of their 16 shots. And they hit them at critical times, too. We were trying to scrap there late in the game and miscommunicated after a trap and didn’t rotate out and Gonzalez hit that corner for a 3. That was a big possession. A couple calls here or there that could’ve gone our way that maybe would have kept the shift when we were making the run, kept the momentum going our way.”

Lincoln was playing its second game without senior starter Trinity Shearer, who injured her left ankle in the game with Boyle County.

“Trinity not being in there threw us for a loop for a little bit with our chemistry and leadership on the floor, especially the main ball handler not being in there and things,” said McWhorter. “But we had some kids step up. I thought Savannah did a great job inside tonight battling and rebounds, finished inside, knocked her free throws down tonight.”

Robbins was LIncoln’s rebound leader in a 36-34 win on the glass, with eight boards. Ralston had seven rebounds and Ellison, six. Pevley had a game-high 12 rebounds for Garrard.

At Lincoln Co.

Garrard 16 17 5 18 – 56

Lincoln 12 5 14 21 – 52

GARRARD (13-11, 2-4) – Carolina Gonzalez 19, Brittany Butner 6, Madisyn Neeley 10, Jade Pevley 19, Nancy Gonzalez 2.

LINCOLN (12-13, 4-2) – Haleigh Releford 7, Chloe Ralston 7, Savannah Robbins 12, Haleigh Ellison 4, Talynne Shearer 14, Ally Lynn 1, Lydia Rice 4, Abby Lane 3.