Pats rally to win fourth straight district title

The chant, “This is our house! This is our house!” rose from the Lincoln County student section Friday night following the Patriots’ 45-44 come-from-behind win over host Boyle County to complete a sweep of the 45th District Tournament crowns.

“I’m real proud of them,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said of the Patriots’ rally effort. “They battled and battled and we got stops when we needed to make stops.”

The Lincoln County boys’ basketball team, the tourney’s No. 1 seed, brought a win-streak of three straight district championships into Friday’s title tilt, but the streak looked like it might be reaching its end for most of the first three quarters at Rebel Arena, with the two-seeded Rebels leading from the opening tip.

A 7-1 run midway through the third quarter, though, helped the Patriots deadlock the ballgame then an 11-2 fourth-quarter surge pushed them ahead 43-36.

Boyle (16-14) made a late run to edge back on top 44-43 with 46 seconds to play. However, the lead wouldn’t last. Noah Young, who had a game-high 18 points, drove baseline for the go-ahead bucket with 34 ticks on the clock.

The Rebels had two opportunities to retake the lead, but a Reese Smith miss was grabbed by the Patriot’s Chase Phillips, and, after Phillips missed two free throws, Bryce Slone put up a potential game-winner only to see it miss its mark. Time ran out as players scrambled for the rebound.

“We’ve talked to the kids all year that in close games to let the defense win for you, and I thought the defense did that,” Jackson said. “We had a lot of stops and we had those two defensive possessions that were really good at the end. Chase got the rebound on the one off a missed shot. After he missed the free throws, we knew we needed to get another stop and we did. The ball got knocked loose and everybody was diving on it and the clock ran out.”

Lincoln (23-9) trailed 28-22 when Blake Smith ignited the 7-1 third-quarter run. Carlos Nunez added a free throw, Devin Alcorn scored a layup off his own steal and Smith, who finished with nine points, put up a floater with 1:33 left in the third to tie the game at 29-all.

Reese Smith, who had 12 points for the Rebels, sank two free throws to end the third to put Boyle back up 31-29.

Lincoln was down 34-32 when Young sank two free throws to open an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter. Young also hit a 3-pointer and converted on a three-point play in the run and Smith got his own 3 for the Patriots’ biggest lead of the game, 43-36.

Slone and Smith both sank two free throws for Boyle late in the fourth and Smith added a jumper to get the Rebels within 43-42 before Bramel added his two foul shots for the team’s final lead.

Jason Alexander, who led Boyle with 14 points, scored 10 of those points in the first quarter to help the Rebels to an 19-11 lead. Boyle posted its biggest lead of the game in the first period, with Bramel hitting inside with under a minute to play for the 17-8 margin.

Lincoln, which shot 46 percent overall from the field, going 18-for-39, was just 8-for-21 in the first half.

“We didn’t have a great first half,” Jackson said. “We didn’t really move well offensively the first half. They’re good defensively but we just didn’t make hard cuts. We came out the second half and played much harder. As the game went on we played a little better offensively and got some cuts.”

Boyle, which led 24-17 at the break, was 10-for-21 in the first and second quarters, 14-for-30 overall for 47 percent.

The Patriots were outrebounded by the Rebels 25-14. Lincoln had eight turnovers to Boyle’s 14.

“It was a heck of a ballgame, a heck of a win for our kids,” Jackson said. “I was real proud of the effort they gave tonight. They played hard and made those two big stops at the end of the game. I’m just really, really proud of them.

“Now, we go back home to get ready for region,” he added.

45th District Tournament

At Boyle County

LINCOLN 11 6 12 16 — 45

BOYLE 19 5 7 13 — 44

LINCOLN (23-9) – Devin Alcorn 8, Tanner McAninch 4, Blake Smith 9, Noah Young 18,  Carlos Nunez 6.

BOYLE (16-14) – Reese Smith 12, Caleb Jackson 1, Jason Alexander 14, Bryce Slone 4, Grant Hotchkiss 7, Will Bramel 6.