Lincoln boys stay the course after slow start

Published 2:24 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

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By Mike Marsee

Contributing Writer

The Lincoln County boys are in an unfamiliar place, but they don’t plan to stay.

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Winless through the first two weeks of the season, the Patriots have both plenty of work to do and plenty to work with.

Coach Jeff Jackson has been around long enough to know that this is no time to push the panic button. Instead, he wants the Patriots to keep doing what they’re doing until they do it better.

“I’ve been through this before as a coach, starting out slow,” Jackson said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep working. You’ve got to be positive, we’ve got to keep teaching, we’ve got to keep playing together and you’ve got to keep pulling for each other and as the season progresses see if we can’t improve.”

Lincoln took an 0-4 record into its game Tuesday at West Jessamine, off to its worst start since it lost its first six games in 2001-02.

There is little experience left from the teams that lived near the top of the 12th Region for three straight seasons, and that has shown at times in a tough early-season schedule that has seen the Patriots lose to Lafayette, Harrison County, Henry Clay and Danville Christian.

They surrendered a halftime lead in their 52-40 loss to DCA in their 45th District opener, done in by poor shot selection and poor transition defense.

Even so, Jackson said he saw some good things in that game just as he had in previous games.

“I saw some positives,” he said. “I think we’ve improved somewhat as a team from game one to game four, and our goal is to get better every day in practice.”

Jackson said defining the roles of both experienced players and those new to the rotation will be an important step for Lincoln, which has two returning starters.

Guard Connor Davis is the only double-digit scorer at this point, averaging 10.7 points through four games. Fellow senior Blade Nuckols, who started in the second half of last season, averages 8.5 points.

“But their roles have changed … so getting all that defined is a work in progress, and it’s going to take time because their leadership, their thought process has to be different,” Jackson said.

Two other seniors, twins Sawyer Horton and Seth Horton, have returned to the team after sitting out last season and are contributing off the bench.

Then there are several new faces, including freshman guard Cash Baird, who is second on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game. Sophomores Mason Agee and Sawyer Robbins are also in the starting lineup.

The Patriots have struggled with their shooting in the early going, and Jackson said they must improve on defense to overcome that.

“You can’t beat quality teams (shooting like that) unless you’re going to come down the floor and be locked down defensively, and we’re not there yet,” he said.

Lincoln will stay busy during the holiday break with tournaments at Montgomery County before Christmas and at Madison Central after Christmas, leaving less time for practice between now and January.

“After the break we’ll kind of have our roles defined a little bit, have our rotation defined a little bit better,” Jackson said. “We’re still putting people in different spots, trying to figure things out.

“We’re going to go through some ups and downs and hopefully it’ll be a little clearer after the break, and we’re hoping that by January we’ll be headed in the right direction.”