Lincoln’s wrong-way repeat
Teams that make it to the Boys Sweet Sixteen in consecutive years shouldn’t get the jitters the second time around, but it could be that Lincoln County did just that Thursday in its 70-58 loss to Shelby County in the first round.
Just like last year, when the Patriots lost a first-round game to Adair County, their shooters were ice cold right from the start of the game. In 2007, their first three jump shots came up short and they went on to shoot 35 percent from the field. In 2008, they couldn’t connect from 3-point range, where they were 0-for-their first 9, 1-for-13 in the first half and 3-for-18 through the first three quarters.
There was good defense by Shelby, to be sure, but Lincoln didn’t lack for good looks, either. And as coach Jeff Jackson pointed out after the game, those missed shots had a negative effect on everythine else the Patriots did, from defense to rebounding.
Lincoln was similarly ineffective from 3-point range in its state tournament game last season, hitting only two of 13 long-range attempts against Adair. But the Patriots were better able to work in the interior in that game than in this one.
Maybe it wasn’t a case of nerves. Maybe it was just a bad night. But the end result was that Lincoln’s loss to Shelby this year looked a lot like its loss to Adair last year.
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Practice clearly does not make perfect, because Jackson said Lincoln’s seven days of practice since winning the 12th Region Tournament on March 11 couldn’t have been much better. He said the workouts were short — usually only about 1 hour, 10 minutes — but he said the players were focused and worked hard day after day right up to their final practice Wednesday at Transylvania University.
“We had a great (seven) days of practice. We practiced as well as we had all year long,” Jackson said. “But our energy level wasn’t good today. It just didn’t carry over.”
Young echoed those thoughts.
“I felt confident coming in here today. We had great practices this week,” he said.
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Some statistical nuggets from the game:
- The Patriots scored 27 of their 58 points on 3-point goals, in large part because they hit five 3s in the final 2:54 after Shelby had put the game out of reach.
- Lincoln entered the game averaging 29 rebounds on the season but got only 15 against Shelby, which surely must have been its season low, and was outrebounded by 23. Last year, Adair outrebounded the Patriots 29-23.
- Lincoln’s three senior leaders — Noah Keeton, Daniel Ralston and Ryan Young — took 38 of its 50 field-goal attempts and scored 44 of its 58 points. They combined to go 7-for-22 from 3-point range and 15-for-38 overall from the field.
- The Patriots committed only nine turnovers, three fewer than Shelby. They also had eight steals, with six different players getting at least one.
- Only six players scored for Lincoln, including junior guard Cody Willis, the only Patriot to get a basket after Jackson began emptying his bench late in the game.
- Measured by scoring margin, this was the worst defeat of the season for the Patriots (see season scores), who lost by six points to Bryan Station, by three to Henry Clay, by six to Paintsville, by nine to McCreary Central and by eight to Paul Dunbar. Their score was 10.5 points below their season average.
- The attendance for the Lincoln-Shelby game and the Hazard-South Laurel game that preceded it was 14,386, the second-largest crowd of the three first-round sessions — but almost 1,900 fans below the crowd that watched Lincoln’s first-round session last year, which included Adair, Scott County and Oldham County. And Lincoln brought the largest fan base seen to that point; its fan support was rivaled only by that of Mason County, which played in the Thursday night session that drew 15,040 fans.