45th District basketball: Boyle boys knock out five-time champ Lincoln

Published 4:10 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

LANCASTER – It had all the allure of a district championship game and all the pressure of an elimination game, and the Boyle County boys had what it took to survive it.

Specifically, the Rebels had what it took on defense to defeat Lincoln County on Thursday night in a battle between the teams that have run the 45th District in recent years.

They held Lincoln to 18 points in the first half and kept the Patriots at arm’s length in the second half of a 60-46 victory in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Garrard Middle School.

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Boyle coach Dennie Webb said the Rebels did exactly what they were supposed to do on defense as they held Lincoln to 32 percent shooting from the field and ended the Patriots’ run of five consecutive district titles.

“We spent a good three days going over defensively what we wanted to do and tweaked just a little bit what we did the last time we played them. I thought overall they did a really good job,” Webb said.

Lincoln and Boyle had split 12 meetings over the past four seasons and have faced off for three district championships and one regional title over the past three seasons, but the trophies were still in their boxes Thursday as they played before a near-capacity crowd.

“We’re not used to playing Lincoln in the knockout game. Usually when we go toe to toe it’s for trophies, and they always make a big run in the district and the region, so I’m tickled for our kids that we were able to come out on top,” Webb said.

Demauriah Brown scored 20 points and Montavin Quisenberry had 17 to lead third-seeded Boyle (14-15), which will try to win its first district title since 2018 in Friday’s final against Danville Christian.

The Rebels earned a berth in next week’s 12th Region Tournament, while second-seeded Lincoln (16-13) will miss the regional for the first time since 2018 and only the fourth time in 21 seasons under coach Jeff Jackson.

“I thought our inexperience showed,” Jackson said. “It was a concern coming in, but I’m proud of our kids for the year they had. We won 16 games and a lot of people didn’t think we would get quite that many, but I’m proud of our kids for working hard every day.”

Boyle held Lincoln to 32 points in a Feb. 2 win after allowing 62 in a Jan. 12 loss. The Rebels’ defensive goals in the rubber match centered around being fundamentally sound and preventing 3-point baskets from the corners.

“(Some of the) things we preach a lot are don’t gamble, just be solid, keep the guy in front of you,” Webb said. “We guarded the ball well and we stayed on shooters for the most part.”

Lincoln shot better from 3-point range (9 for 24) than from inside the line (7 for 26) thanks largely to Blade Nuckols, who hit six of 11 3-point attempts and scored a game-high 28 points.

Nuckols scored 17 straight points for the Patriots in a 10-minute span in the third and fourth quarters, and he had 20 of the Patriots’ 28 second-half points.

“It was not the way he wanted to go out, but I think he represented the name on the front of that jersey well tonight and laid it on the line for his teammates and for our team.”

Boyle, which defeated Kentucky School for the Deaf 85-29 in a first-round game Monday, never trailed after scoring nine straight points midway through the first quarter to break a 6-all tie.

The Rebels led 32-18 in the first minute of the second half, and Lincoln never got closer than seven points after that.

Guy Turner had 10 points for Boyle, which also got five assists and four steals from Quisenberry, four steals from Brown and seven rebounds from Seneca Driver.

Cash Baird had eight points and three assists and Sawyer Horton had eight rebounds and three assists for Lincoln.