Lincoln beats Boyle for 5th straight district title

Published 11:57 am Monday, February 27, 2023

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Contributing Writer

STANFORD — Lincoln County has gotten pretty good at throwing a postseason party.

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Many of the red-, white- and blue-clad fans who made up the majority of a capacity crowd were in place well before tipoff of the boys 45th District Tournament championship Friday night.

And the Patriots did their part, first energizing their fans with a hot start and then feeding off their energy as they closed out Boyle County for a 56-41 victory that gave them their fifth consecutive district title.

Lincoln fans were roaring when the Patriots scored the first 12 points of the game, and they were every bit as loud when the home team extended its lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is a great atmosphere,” Lincoln guard Tramane Alcorn said. “I love playing here. It’s one of the best crowds in KY.”

There is mutual admiration between Lincoln and its fans, who consistently turn out in greater numbers than at just about any other school in these parts and who will return to J.C. Eddelman Gymnasium in droves this week when the Patriots play in the 12th Region Tournament on their home floor.

No one in the bleachers scored a point or made a defensive stop Friday, but everyone on the floor and on the Lincoln bench would say those fans played a part in the Patriots’ success.

“Our crowd was great,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “Our crowd has been great all year. Our student body and our band have been tremendous. They got us going, and we feed off of that energy. Our kids did really well responding to that tonight, and I’m really proud of them.”

Lincoln (22-9) avenged a regular-season loss to Boyle (15-14) three weeks earlier by taking control of the game at the outset and locking up the Rebels on defense.

The Patriots raced to a 12-0 lead while Boyle missed its first 10 shots from the field. And although the Rebels got back into the game in the second quarter, they never made it all the way back.

“It’s always good to get a lead, especially on a team like that,” Alcorn said. “They’re big and they come in spurts, so if we get a lead it’s good to keep it.”

Lincoln kept its lead because Boyle kept missing shots. The Rebels shot a chilly 33 percent from the field, and they shot just 6 percent (1 for 16) from 3-point range and 38 percent (6 for 16 from the free-throw line as they posted their lowest score of the season.

“We were a little tight coming out, a little flat there at the beginning. … And we picked a terrible night not to hit shots and make free throws,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said. “This game, it’s tough when you’re not making shots.”

Lincoln did its best to keep the ball out of the inside, forcing Boyle to take outside shots.

“We did a little bit better job defensively,” Jackson said. “(Jackson Sims) and Will (Bishop) battled with (Boyle center Jakei) Tarter, and we did a good job keeping him in front of us and did a good job closing out on their shooters. It was just really good team defense.”

Webb said the Rebels were willing to settle for jumpers instead of attacking the basket.

“(Lincoln) played the defense they needed to play on us. They packed that thing back and clogged the lane on us and made us shoot those outside shots, and we didn’t make ’em,” Webb said.

When Boyle’s shots didn’t go down, the Patriots held their own on the boards, where the Rebels held a 34-30 edge. The Rebels got 15 offensive rebounds, but poor shooting resulted in only nine second-chance points.

Lincoln also shot the ball better than it has in the recent past. The Patriots shot 54 percent from the field and were 13 for 18 in the second half.

Two of their biggest baskets came at the start of the second half after Boyle had cut an 11-point deficit to three points by holding Lincoln scoreless for the final 4:09 of the first half.

Blade Nuckols opened the third-quarter scoring with a fall-away jumper, and Sims followed with a three-point play on the Patriots’ next possession to push the margin back to eight points, and Boyle never got closer than five again.

“Any of the seven guys that are in the starting lineup or come off the bench can score, and when one of those baskets goes in it gives us all energy and we feed off that,” Nuckols said.

Lincoln rebuilt a double-digit lead by the end of the third period and used a 14-4 run in the fourth quarter to open a 51-35 lead and put the game out of reach.

“We had to get back in rhythm, and that’s what we did. We fought back and we kept our lead after that,” Nuckols said.

Nuckols went 6 for 10 and Alcorn went 4 for 8 from the field, and they led Lincoln with 15 points each. Sims and Colton Ralston added eight points each.

Bishop blocked five shots, including four in a stretch of 2 1/2 minutes in the second half.

Those blocks slowed a Boyle rally that saw the Rebels pull within 21-18 at halftime after trailing 14-3 late in the first quarter.

Tarter and Montavin Quisenberry combined for 12 of Boyle’s 15 second-quarter points, and they led the Rebels with 15 points each. Tarter also had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Boyle settled for the district runner-up trophy for a third straight year and has now gone five years without a district title.

“We’re fortunate we get to play again (in the regional tournament). However, it would have been nice to have gotten this one,” Webb said. “We’ve been here before and we’re kind of getting tired of saying it, but we’d like to get one of these districts at some point.

“It’s a tough place to play over here. Their crowd is great, it’s loud and you can’t hear. It’s a great environment, and it’s a great place to play. Hopefully next week when we’re right back over here again, we’ll be a little more loose and ready to play and play the way we have been.”

Webb said he wouldn’t mind hearing those Lincoln fans yelling at the Rebels again, because that could only happen in a Boyle-Lincoln regional final.

“I would love to be back here and have them yelling at us again,” he said.

As for Lincoln, Alcorn said the team’s four seniors look forward to a few more games in friendly surroundings as they try to win a second straight regional title.

“We’re all blessed, especially to play on our home court,” he said. “This is our senior year, and we want to go out on top.”

Lincoln plays Wayne County in a first-round game Wednesday; Boyle faces McCreary Central on Thursday.

All-Tournament Team

Tramane Alcorn, Lincoln County; Lual Ayiei, Danville Christian; Demauriah Brown, Danville; Ethan Cooper, Garrard County; Blade Nuckols, Lincoln County; Montavin Quisenberry, Boyle County; Colton Ralston, Lincoln County; Jakei Tarter, Boyle County; Micah Tucker, Kentucky School for the Deaf.