DANVILLE — Not this time.
The Lincoln County boys were unable to repeat the blowout success they had in their Jan. 8 matchup with 45th District rival Danville.
In a 41-point turnaround from the 72-40 rout, the Patriots found themselves on the losing side of the scoreboard, falling 63-54 in Friday’s rematch at Danville.
“They came ready to play,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said of Danville. “They played with a sense of purpose. They played with a sense of urgency. We tried to tell our kids that they are playing with a lot of confidence because they’ve won three or four in a row, and they’re playing really well. They came out and smacked us in the mouth early and we didn’t respond very well to that.”
Leading the Admirals’ about-face was sophomore forward Cody Wooldridge, who had 23 points. Jawan Grey finished with 14 points and Alex Burnside had 12 points.
Danville coach Andrew Zaheri said not dwelling on the 32-point loss or any other loss to Lincoln was key in the victory.
“Lincoln County has beaten us the last four times they’ve played us, including last year’s tournament, so I think we’ve been sort of shell-shocked, and I think Lincoln County has had a mental edge on us,” he said. “Tonight, though, I thought the effort was good. We played with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity right from the start .”
Danville (10-14, 4-3 district) shot a blistering 70 percent (21-for-30) from the field and 71 percent (20-for-28) at the foul line in its fourth straight win, exploding out to a 10-1 lead in the first quarter and never looking back.
Lincoln, unable to generate a consistent flow of offense, could not battle back from the early deficit. The Patriots (13-15, 3-3) shot just 38 percent (20-for-52) from the field overall, 18 percent (4-for-22) from 3-point range. They shot 56 percent (10-for-18) at the line.
Zaheri said a change in the Admirals’ game plan since the teams first clashed helped them deny the Lincoln offense.
“We played a lot of man-to-man the first time we played Lincoln County, and that’s just not our strength,” he said. “Of course, I was a little worried with how well they shoot the ball, but I think our bread-and-butter is a zone and different types of zones, so we went with that tonight.”
“I thought our guys did a pretty good job of getting to them, but there were times when they missed some shots tonight that Coach Jackson’s boys normally knock down. We got lucky in the sense that we caught Lincoln on a bad shooting night.”
Danville’s luck started early with Lincoln missing five field goal attempts before getting a shot to fall. Meanwhile, the Admirals were lighting up the scoreboard. The two teams traded a missed bucket and a turnover apiece before Grey banked in the game-opener to set off a 10-1 run. He then hit with a jumper, Jakobi Turner scored on a layup, Wooldridge got his first bucket and Burnside drove inside for a layup.
The only hiccup in the Admiral run was a Luke Hill free throw at the 5:24 mark. Lincoln finally ended its scoring drought with 3:48 left in the first when Brandon Pittman nailed a 3-pointer.
Burnside scored off a Lincoln turnover with 3:20 left in the first to put Danville up 12-4, but the Admiral offense fizzled over the remainder of the period. Danville missed five field goal attempts and turned the ball over twice in the final minutes.
Lincoln’s Jacob Conway, who had a game-high 24 points and four steals, closed the first quarter scoring, collecting a bucket and a three-point play to get the Patriots within 12-9.
The late first-quarter surge to make it a three-point game was Lincoln’s best of the night. The Patriots got no closer than that, with Burnside hitting back-to-back buckets to open the second quarter and extend the Admiral lead to 16-9.
Danville went 7-for-13 from the field in the second quarter. Burnside scored eight of his 12 points in the period as Danville stretched its lead to nine. Wooldridge added two buckets in the frame, including a dramatic tipin after a Burnside miss, and Turner got one goal to make it 26-17 at the half.
Lincoln was just 3-for-10 from the field in the second quarter, with Conway hitting for the first shot midway of the period.
The Patriots used a 6-2 run early in the third quarter to cut the deficit to five. Hill, who had 12 points for Lincoln, scored twice off Timmy Taylor assists then Taylor scored on a layup to make it 28-23.