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Frye, Smith both hit 1,000th point as Patriots clinch top district seed

STANFORD —  There was no shortage of reasons to celebrate in the Lincoln County boys basketball team’s final regular-season district game Friday night.

The Patriots, who led by as many as 22 points, withstood a strong second-half rally effort by visiting Danville to blow past the Admirals 69-55 to clinch the No. 1 seed for the 45th District Tournament, and two starters got a chance to celebrate a milestone.

Sophomore guard Jaxon Smith, who finished with a game-high 25 points, needed 16 points to hit the 1000th-point mark in his career and senior guard Elijah Frye, who poured in 17 points, needed 12 points to reach quadruple digits.

“Elijah and Jaxon getting their 1,000th point tonight was really good, and I’m happy that it happened at home,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “We had a great crowd, and our student body was awesome again.”

The Patriot victory avenged an earlier loss at Danville and extended Lincoln’s win streak to eight games. The team is now 22-6 overall, 5-1 in the district. Danville is 17-8 overall, 3-3 in the district.

“It was a hard-earned win. I’m excited for our kids and happy for them that they were able to get one tonight,” said Jackson. “They’ve got a heck of a basketball team, make no mistake about that.”

For Smith and Frye, scoring their 1000th career point to become the 15th and 16th Patriots to reach that milestone was not foremost in their minds as they hit the hardwood against Danville, which had beaten Lincoln 58-49 in overtime on Jan. 10.

“I just wanted the win,” said Smith. “This was a revenge game.”

“I was feeling pretty good about it (points), but I was more worried about getting the win,” Frye said. “I wanted to get the win more. The points didn’t matter.”

While getting their 1,000th point was not what drove the Lincoln duo in the district rematch, Frye and Smith and their teammates would need every point in their 22-point cushion to guarantee the win as Danville exploded on a 19-3 run in the second half to whittle a 56-34 Patriot lead down to 59-53 with 2:26 to play.

Sophomore guard Aiden Slone, who led Danville with 23 points, 17 in the second half, scored 10 of those 19 points as the Admirals threatened. Ethan Cooper, who came off the bench for 12 points, scored the other nine points, including two 3-pointers.

“We got out of control. We just started rushing like we were behind. Coach got on us and told us to just slow it down a little bit and just get it together,” Frye said. “We took our time and just started going to the basket. We didn’t need to rush.”

Frye said he wasn’t worried about Danville overtaking Lincoln. And neither was Smith.

“I trust my teammates,” said Smith. “We just had to slow it down. That’s all it was. It wasn’t anything real serious. I wasn’t very worried because we’ve got good guard play.”

“All we had to do was move the ball around and get to the rim,” Frye said. “We really didn’t need nothing because, eventually, they were going to have to come out and foul us. We just needed to knock down the free throws.”

Lincoln did just that, going 10-for-10 at the foul line in the closing minutes to seal the win.

Smith, who scored his 1,000 point with the first bucket of the second half, a layup, was 4-for-4 at the line down the stretch. Frye, who had bombed in two third-quarter 3-pointers to push his game total to 11, went 6-for-6 at the charity stripe to end the game, with the first free throw toss putting him at 1,000 points.

Frye and Smith said they were not worried about Danville’s second-half rally effort when the margin was cut to six points, but Jackson said he couldn’t say the same.

“I was concerned when it was 22,” said the Lincoln mentor. “I’m always concerned about that. They’ve got a good team and good teams keep playing and competing. Got to give them credit for getting back in it. But we made free throws down the stretch and closed it out like we wanted to.”

Lincoln never trailed in the game, jumping on Danville 21-10 in the first quarter.

Riley Bodner, Lincoln’s 6-8 senior center, joined Smith and Frye in double figures with 16 points, knocking down his first two points on the first shot of the game to open a 6-0 Lincoln run. Bryston Alcorn, Cruise Wilson, Frye and Smith also got in on the scoring in the first, with Smith leading the way with eight points to give Lincoln a 21-7 lead. Slone sank three free throws to close the first to make it 21-10.

Bodner, who had a double-double for the game, leading the Patriots in a 36-21 win on the glass with a game-high 12 rebounds, scored six second-quarter points, four off putbacks to boost the Lincoln lead to 35-18 just before the break.

Again, Slone would answer for Danville, hitting a 3-pointer for a 35-21 halftime margin.

“We got off to a really good start,” said Jackson. “We kind of stopped guarding like we needed to and they scored at the end of the first quarter, they scored at the end of the second quarter and that’s a momentum builder for them.”

The Admirals would score the final points of each of the first three periods. Lincoln posted its largest lead of the night, 56-34, with 49 seconds to go in the third, with Smith and Frye each scoring six points, Alcorn getting five points and Bodner, four. Cooper would close the frame with a 3-pointer to ignite Danville’s 19-3 run.

Lincoln shot 50 percent from the field in the win, connecting on 21 of 42 shot attempts, 5-for-15 from 3-point range. The Patriots were 22-for-26 at the foul line.

Danville shot 39.5 percent overall, going 17-for-43, 9-for-19 from 3. The Admirals were 13-for-21 at the line.

Alcorn had nine rebounds for Lincoln.

At Lincoln Co.

Danville 10 11 16 18 – 55

Lincoln 21 14 21 13 – 69

DANVILLE (17-8, 3-3) – Trey Dawson 3, Aiden Slone 22, Jalen Dunn 4, Darrian Bell 14, Ethan Cooper 12.

LINCOLN (22-6, 5-1) – Bryston Alcorn 6, Tramane Alcorn 2, Elijah Frye 17, Jaxon Smith 25, Cruise Wilson 3, Riley Bodner 16.