STANFORD — After blowout loss last Friday, Lincoln County boys coach Jeff Jackson needed to see what his team was made of.
And he liked what he saw Tuesday, as the Patriots built a 15-point lead by halftime and went on to beat visiting Garrard County 68-56 in a 45th District game.
“We had a gut-check from the other night (a loss to Boyle County). And our kids responded well. We had decent practice yesterday and pretty good talk today about some things we want to do,” Jackson said.
It was a game of highlights for the host Patriots as Neil Conley went 6 for 8 from 3-point range and scored 18 points, Jacob Conway had 19 points, Timmy Taylor handed out 13 assists and Luke Hill scored his 1,000th point.
The Patriots led by double digits after the first quarter. Garrard cut it to nine early in the second quarter, but that was as close as the Golden Lions would get.
“They were unbelievable early, and of course, part of that is them. They made the shots, but part of that is us with not much defense out on them,” Garrard coach Dennis Pardue said. “And anybody can stand there and shoot wide open and make it. But once you get out there and put a little pressure on them, it makes a difference.
“Defensively, we weren’t very good tonight, execution-wise we weren’t very good tonight. And against a team of that caliber, you’ve got to at least bring your ‘B’ game, if not your ‘A’ game, and we just didnt do it.”
Lincoln (8-11, 2-1 district) was 11 for 26 from 3-point range Tuesday and finished 23 for 48 from the field and 11 for 18 at the free-throw line. Jackson said Taylor ran the team well for a lot of those buckets.
“He got the ball in transition and really pushed it and did some good things in the lane in making good decisions, and had a heck of a game,” Jackson said of his sophomore point guard.
Lincoln led 10-6 before Hill scored seven straight points to give Lincoln a 17-6 lead after the first quarter. His last points, a three-point play off of a putback, gave him 1,000 for his career. He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“We’re all tickled and proud of Luke for getting his 1,000th point,” Jackson said.
A layup from Garrard’s Billy Abney, who scored 12 points, made it 19-10 with 6:05 left in the first half. But that’s when the Patriots went wild from long range.
Conley drilled two straight 3s and Conway hit another one from the top of the key. After Conway’s runner in the lane, Conley nailed another trey from the left wing that put Lincoln up 36-17 with 2:20 left in the half. The Patriots went on to lead 36-21 at the half.
Down 44-33 in third quarter, Garrard (3-14, 0-3) had a chance to get the lead down to single digits again, but came up empty on three straight possessions.
“When you’re playing from behind, once you make stops you’ve got to capitalize on that by a good possession and scoring. Or at least getting a good shot,” Pardue said. “And with those three possessions, we took one bad shot and we turned it over twice.”
From there, Lincoln took a 47-35 lead after three quarters, and Garrard could only get within 10 early in the fourth quarter.
Garrard went 13 for 23 in the second half and finished 20 for 42, including 6 for 11 from 3-point range.
But Jackson liked the defense his team played on Garrard’s Austin Sebastian, holding him scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting.
“I thought Brandon Pittman and Jacob Conway really took the challenge of guarding Sebastian and made it tough on him,” he said.
Clayton Ray picked up slack for the Lions, however and scored a game-high 20 points, while Slade Crutchfield added 14 points.
“We played hard, we didn’t quit, we kept fighting. We gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game. And our goals was to get it to nine after three quarters,” Pardue said. “But we just didn’t capitalize on opportunities when we had a chance to do so.”
After they had dropped two straight games, Jackson said the Patriots’ effort Tuesday was sorely needed.
“I don’t know how we played hard-wise the last two games. Not with our effort and not with our consistency and focus,” he said. “We’re a young team and we’re going to have our ups and down and highs and lows, but we’re wanting to do things right. And we did some good things tonight.
“We needed a win. We just have to keep trying to get better. We’ve got 11 games left, and we just need to try to improve and get better.”
Garrard County 6 21 35 56
Lincoln County 17 36 47 68
GARRARD (3-14) — Slade Crutchfield 14, Jaylene McPherson 2, Nick McCollum 2, Clayton Ray 20, Jacob Smith 4, Billy Abney 12, Logan Teague 2.
LINCOLN (8-11) — Timmy Taylor 9, B.J. Hoover 2, Brandon Pittman 3, Neil Conley 18, Jacob Conway 19, Luke Hill 17.