STANFORD — Cassandra McWhorter couldn’t find the right words to get her team motivated again Boyle County, so the Lincoln County girls coach thought she would let her starters watch for a little while.
With the Patriots down seven points, McWhorter pulled her pulled her starters with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left in the third quarter Friday night. Consider the message sent and received.
Lincoln got the game tied by the end of the third quarter, then blitzed Boyle in the fourth and went on to a 61-47 win in a 45th District game.
“It really got us fired up. We knew we needed to get our heads in the game, and get something going. We needed to attack the basket more and just play better defense,” said Lincoln guard Emily Fox, who had four of her five 3-point baskets and scored 17 of her 22 points in the final 9:04 of the game. “At halftime we knew she wasn’t very happy with us. And then they started getting on a roll at the beginning of the third quarter, I don’t think we were very surprised (to be benched). Personally, it fired me up. I just wanted to win this game (and) get everything going.”
Host Lincoln (14-3, 3-0 district) led 22-21 at halftime, but Boyle buckets from Cami Holton, Hannah Harris and Chelsea Gill helped earn the Patriots’ starting five a seat next to McWhorter on the bench.
“We didn’t have energy, we were very flat the first half, turning the ball over a lot. We had nine turnovers in the fourth quarter,” McWhorter said. “(I was) just trying to motivate and get a fire under them and get them going. And when I pulled them, the five I put in there (Caitlin Hall, Cristin Hall, Chansler Gilbert, Spencer Sims, Kelsi Honaker) did good things. And that’s why I always say we’ve got 10 or 12 kids that can play, it’s just finding that combination.
“When I pulled those five, I was just trying to send a message because we weren’t playing to our capability.”
Boyle (9-6, 2-1) still led 31-26 when Fox and Sydney Harris, who also had 22 points to go with six rebounds, re-entered the game with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
Caitlin Hall nailed a 3-point shot to make it 32-29, and then Fox hit two straight 3s to give Lincoln a 35-33 lead. A bucket from Allison Hall tied the game at 35-all heading to the fourth quarter.
Harris scored three points and Fox hit two free throws made it 40-35, but Boyle rallied as Gill hit a free throw, Marlee Smith hit a 3-point shot and Gill hit two more at the foul line to tied the game at 40-all with 5:43 to play. Gill finished with 14 points and Hannah Harris scored 16 for the Rebels.
“This is a different Boyle County. We’re a year older, we’re playing aggressive, we’re attacking, we’re doing the things we need to do to be successful, and the kids know they can make those comebacks now,” Boyle coach Greg Edwards said. “So I don’t think that was anything out of character for us, the team we are this year.”
But the comeback was short-lived, as Lincoln went on a 15-0 run to put the game away.
Harris started the run with a free throw and ended it with a 3-pointer from the left corner off a turnover to make it 55-40 with 3:02 to go. Lincoln scored nine points off turnovers during that run.
“We just lost our focus a little bit. They’ve got a senior-dominated team, (and) you have to give them credit, they made plays when they had to. I thought Harris and Fox played really big for them tonight,” Edwards said. “But I thought our kids battled. It’s like I told them after the game to hold their head up when they walk out of here. I’m proud of where we are, I’m proud of where we’re going.
“And this is just round one. We’re halfway through the district now; we’ve got three more district games to play. And we’re all kind of in the same boat.”
Boyle went 9 for 21 from the field in the second half and finished 16 for 40. The Rebels were just 2 for 14 from 3-point range and 13 for 36 at the foul line.
Lincoln went 12 for 28 from the field in the second half and finished 21 for 55. The Patriots made seven of 17 shots from 3-point range, but just 12 of 23 at the line.
Rachel Spangler’s nine rebounds helped Lincoln to a 32-27 edge on the boards. Dee Foster had eight rebounds to lead Boyle.
Boyle was coming off a win over Danville on Tuesday, and McWhorter warned her team not to take the Rebels lightly.
“They’re playing really good basketball right now, and I talked to the girls about those things,” she said. “I might have said too much to where they’re overthinking, they’re not just going out there loose and playing as well as we’re capable. And Boyle came out playing good basketball, and every time we hit a shot they hit a shot. They played really tough.”
A jumper from Sydney Harris gave Lincoln a 17-11 lead, and the Patriots still led 22-16 with 3:17 to go when Boyle made a run. Emmie Harris’ 3-pointer from the right wing cut Lincoln’s lead to 22-21 at halftime.
Boyle County 11 21 35 47
Lincoln County 10 22 35 61
BOYLE (9-6) — Chelsea Gill 14, Hannah Harris 16, Marlee Smith 8, Cami Holton 4, Emmie Harris 3, Allison Hall 2.
LINCOLN (14-3) — Emily Fox 22, Ciara Saylor 2, Sydney Harris 22, Rachel Spangler 2, Kourtney Belcher 2, Chansler Gilbert 4, Caitlin Hill 3, Cristin Hall 2.