COLUMBIA – The Lincoln County Patriots trailed by just six points at halftime Saturday night, but struggled in the second half as they dropped their fifth game in a row.
Henderson County rode the momentum of a second-half surge to pull away and roll 63-45 over Lincoln in the McDonald’s Hoopin’ It Up Classic at Adair County.
“The second half they cranked up their intensity level and we just didn’t respond very well,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “They are very, very good. They are the best team we’ve played so far.”
Turnovers and scoring lapses proved costly for Lincoln (1-6) in the holiday hoops tourney. Henderson (7-1) scored 28 points off Lincoln’s 22 turnovers and the Patriots’ offense struggled over the second, third and fourth quarters, going without a single field goal over three spans totalling over 16 minutes.
The Colonels went 4-for-6 from the field the first three minutes of the third quarter, including nailing two 3-pointers, to outscore Lincoln 10-2 and turn their six-point halftime lead into a 40-26 advantage. Lincoln was 0-for-7 during the same stretch.
Then, in a span of 6 minutes, 20 seconds in the fourth quarter Henderson went on a 13-2 run, using a 10-for-10 stint at the foul line to extend the lead to 61-40. Just like the third-quarter scoring slump, Lincoln collected its only points at the foul line.
“They (Colonels) had a lot to do with that,” Jackson said of Lincoln’s offensive woes. “We just didn’t match their intensity the second half. They popped us in the mouth a little bit and got physical and we didn’t respond very well.”
“We’ve got to mature a little bit, be a little tougher mentally, be a little tougher physically and step up and match their intensity. That’s something we have to work on every day at practice and get better at.”
Lincoln held the early lead in the game, with Jacob Conway, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, and BJ Hoover both stepping behind the arc for 3-pointers and a 6-4 lead. Hoover hit again from 3 late in the period for an 11-8 advantage only to have Corey Sanners, who led Henderson with 14 points, including four treys, nailing his first triple to even the score.
Luke Hill, who led all scorers with 16 points, edged Lincoln back on top at the buzzer, taking a long pass from the back court and driving in for a layup and a 13-11 lead.
Lincoln, which was 15-for-38 from the field for 39 percent, experienced its first scoring drought to open the second quarter as Henderson broke on a 10-0 run. Sanners hit twice from 3-point range in the run, followed with a field goal and Cain Cooper collected two free throws to put the Colonels on top to stay, 21-13.
Conway finally ended Lincoln’s drought 5:02 in with a 3-pointer. Hill went inside for three buckets and Timmy Taylor added a jumper to keep Lincoln within 28-24. However, Brady Norman hit for Henderson just before the break to make it a 30-24 ballgame.
The Patriots turned the ball over five times in the first quarter and still managed to hold to their lead. They wouldn’t in the second as the Colonels scored eight points in their quarter-opening 10-0 run off Lincoln turnovers.
“We had 10 turnovers in the first half, unforced. I don’t remember a turnover that they really forced us into in the first half,” Jackson said. “We missed a couple layups. We’re 2-for-6 from the line and we’re down six. If we make our free throws, cut the turnovers in half and got more shot opportunities, we could have possibly had the lead at the half.”
“We’ve got to learn to take better control of the ball and make free throws – those are huge.”
Lincoln, which was 10-for-18 from the foul line overall, got two free throws from Hoover during the Patriots’ 4 minutes, 40 second drought from the field to start the second half. After seven missed field goal attempts, Taylor finally connected from 3.
Henderson’s biggest lead of the third was 14 points but Conway sank three free throw shots late and Hill got two buckets, including one at the buzzer to make it a 10-point, 46-36 game.
Lincoln got just nine more points the rest of the way, though, as Henderson collected the win.
“They are very good and well-coached,” Jackson said of Henderson. “They’ve got a heckuva program at Henderson County and they’re good every year. And they took it to us the second half tonight.”
Henderson was 20-for-50 from the field for 40 percent, going 8-for-14 from 3-point range. The Colonels were 15-for-24 at the foul line.
Lincoln was 5-for-16 from 3.
Henderson outrebounded Lincoln 31-26 led by Kaleb Duckworth and Cooper with six boards apiece. Jalen Grimes had five. For Lincoln, Hoover, Brandon Pittman and Conway all had five rebounds and Hill had four.
Henderson had just eight turnovers.