Prep Basketball: Lincoln girls play like champs in 66-52 win over Garrard in 45th District semifinal
Rachel Spangler (23) of Lincoln County drives between Garrard County defenders Ryan Cain, left, and Kelly Smith during the second quarter of Lincoln's 66-52 win Tuesday in a 45th District Tournament semifinal. (Clay Jackson / February 20, 2013)
The seniors — Kourtney Belcher, Emily Fox, Chansler Gilbert, Sydney Harris and Ciara Saylor — told their coach that they did not want the season to end yet, and the defending 45th District Tournament champions are still alive.
The Patriots earned a shot at a sixth straight district title by knocking off Garrard County 66-52 in a semifinal Tuesday night at Rebel Arena.
“I just wanted to put those thoughts in their head about a last practice or last game because in basketball anybody can be beat on any given night,” McWhorter said. “If you don’t win the game Tuesday night, it’s all over. I didn’t want it to be over for them.”
After trailing 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, Lincoln (23-5) exploded on an 18-5 scoring run in the second quarter to put some distance between itself and Garrard (17-8). And the 30-18 lead at halftime gave the Patriots all the cushion they needed for the win.
“That second quarter was huge,” McWhorter said. “Scott (Bolin, Garrard’s coach) had his team ready for us. It was a good ballgame, and if we don’t have that second-quarter charge, it’s a tight ballgame.”
Bolin knew knocking off the defending champs would be a tough challenge.
“I knew we were going to have to be at 100 percent tonight, and we were at times, but to sustain it for 32 minutes against a team like that is tough,” he said. “All the credit to Lincoln County.
“We enjoyed the challenge of trying to dethrone them, but, good gracious, they’re good. They have all the pieces, the star power, the role players, the bench, the coaching. They have it all.”
Harris scored a game-high 24 points, leading three Lincoln players in double figures as the top-seeded Patriots earned a spot in Friday’s district final against the winner of tonight’s Boyle County-Danville game and a berth in next week’s 12th Region Tournament at Pulaski County. She also had eight rebounds and two assists.
Belcher contributed 16 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Fox, despite getting in foul trouble early, finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Rachel Spangler scored just five points, but she took control on the boards, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. She also had four assists.
“Sydney’s 7 for 12 and 4-for-4 perfect for 24 points. Emily sits the majority of the first half with two fouls and she finishes with 15 points. Rachel had nine rebounds at the half and finishes the game with 13 boards. And Kourtney played a heck of a defense and had 16 points,” McWhorter said. “It’s like I’ve said all year, if we can get three in double figures, we’re hard to beat.”
Belcher scored 10 of her total points in the first half, collecting three baskets in the first quarter and two more in Lincoln’s game-opening second-quarter run.
Belcher’s first-quarter buckets plus a Saylor 3-pointer helped Lincoln to a 9-6 lead, and Spangler drained a 3-point shot late to make it 12-11. But Garrard’s Autumn Murray, who had 17 points, closed the first-quarter scoring with a jumper to edge the Lions ahead 13-12.
Fox got the second quarter started by bombing in the first of her three 3s to put Lincoln on top to stay and ignite the 18-5 run. Belcher added her two goals and Gilbert had one, while Harris knocked down nine points, including a 3-pointer to end the half.
“It’s times like that that makes it so tough,” Bolin said of the scoring surge. “You get tired and you play so hard on the defensive end. They have so many people that you have to pay attention to that it is really tough.”
Lincoln shot 46 percent (6 for 13) from the field in the second quartere. Overall, the team stayed at 46 percent on 25 for 54 shooting.
Garrard, which shot 40 percent (21 for 53) from the field, got just two of 13 shots to fall in the second quarter. Devin Conley, who led Garrard with 20 points, scored off a jumper and Murray hit inside.