Lincoln bows out
The Lincoln County Patriots had every reason to believe they could win their first-round game Wednesday at the Boys Sweet Sixteen. Until they started shooting.
When the first three jump shots came up short, it was a telltale sign of state tournament jitters. When the situation didn’t improve throughout the first quarter, or the second, or the third, it was clear that it might be something more than a momentary case of butterflies.
What was it that caused Lincoln to shoot so poorly — 34.7 percent — in its 51-41 loss to Adair County? It’s impossible to say, but here are some theories:
- Nerves: Jackson said Lincoln “played really, really tight,” and his players agreed. “We just didn’t get into the flow of the basketball game,” guard Ryan Young said. Of course, it’s impossible to say why that affected Lincoln more than Adair, which was in the same boat as far as state tournament experience.
- Fatigue. Jackson said a couple of days after the regional tournament that his team was tired, and while eight days was plenty of time to recover from that, guard Noah Keeton said he didn’t think the Patriots were at full strength. “We just came out stiff. Our legs weren’t like they normally are,” he said.
- Distraction. It happens all the time to teams that haven’t been to the Sweet Sixteen in a while, and Jackson said there were distractions over the last week. The team visited all of the county’s elementary schools and did a few other out-of-the-ordinary things. “We did some things during the week that took us out of our routine,” he said. Still, Jackson said he wouldn’t have done it differently. “I wouldn’t change anything we did.”
The truth is, it was a little bit of all those things, as well as some decent defense by Adair, that kept the shots from falling. And just as good shooting cures a number of ills, poor shooting can leave players feeling just a little bit sick.
* * *
Even in the disappointment of defeat, Jackson did his best to call attention to the bigger picture of what Lincoln did to reach this point. “We just have to try to love what we’ve done,” he said. “The things they’ve done and given to our community are special.”
And Jackson said ending the season at the state tournament is always special, too. “Not every kid gets the chance to play here, and this is the best tournament in the country, and it’s an honor to be here,” he said.
* * *
There’s usually a good bit of horse-trading that goes on when coaches start looking for tapes of an upcoming state tournament opponent they’re not familiar with.
But Jackson and Adair coach Mark Fudge eliminated some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by doing business the way football coaches often do it. Jackson said he and Fudge have a good relationship and have exchanged other tapes in the past, so they simply gave each other the tapes of their teams’ three regional tournament games.
Still, those weren’t the only Adair games Jackson saw. He later said his coaches had seen a total of seven tapes on the Indians.
* * *
Lincoln was outrebounded 29-23, and Jackson said it was one of only three or four times in 34 games that the Patriots lost the battle of the boards. “It’s been a long time, small as we are as a team, (since) we’ve been outrebounded,” he said.
Here are a few other key statistics:
- Lincoln was 2-for-13 from 3-point range, including 2-for-9 in the second half. Adair hit the only two 3-point shots it tried, both in the first half.
- Both teams had 12 turnovers. Lincoln had only four assists, a number that would have been higher with more made shots.
- The Patriots hit five of six free throws and had 22 fewer attempts at the line than Adair, but that was because they fouled frequently in the final four or five minutes.
Young had 17 points, three rebounds and two assists. Keeton had nine points and two steals. Braxton Miller had six points and seven rebounds.
- For Adair, Chris Lewis had 12 points, four rebounds and two steals. Kalen Kimberland had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Darren Ballou had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.
- Lincoln had 15 points off turnovers; Adair had six. Lincoln also outscored Adair 13-4 on second-chance points.
- Junior Brodie Hart took the only shot the Patriots attempted after Jackson emptied his bench with 19 seconds to play, an unsuccessful 3-point try.
- Lincoln finished one point above its lowest point total of the season. The Patriots were held to 40 in a December loss to Mason County and in their regional semifinal win over West Jessamine.
* * *
Lincoln’s trip to the tourney was good for the KHSAA’s bottom line and would have been better if the Patriots had stayed longer.
Lincoln appeared to have the largest contingent of fans among the four schools in the Wednesday afternoon session that also included Adair, Scott County and Oldham County, accounting for a large part of the crowd of 16,264.
* * *
It surely won’t get as many hits as if Lincoln had won, but the archived webcast of Wednesday’s game called by Jon Logan Smith, Kevin Bandura and Tim Estes can be heard here.