The Lincoln County boys basketball team dropped its fourth consecutive game Tuesday night, falling to visiting West Jessamine in a hotly contested battle.
Chase Fain came through with the game-winner in the nailbiter, hitting a jumper with 4 seconds to play to push the Colts past the Patriots 64-62.
“We talked about getting stops, and he just hit a tough, tough shot,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said of Fain. “They’ve got a heckuva basketball team, a lot of talented players and a lot of seniors, and he’s one of those talented seniors.”
The Colts (5-2) took a 62-59 lead with 50.8 seconds left off a Fain bucket in the paint and a Robby Irgang free throw, only to have Lincoln tie it up with 22.1 ticks to go off a Luke Hill basket and a BJ Hoover free throw.
After a Lincoln timeout, West Jessamine took its time, holding the ball for the final shot. As the clock dropped under eight seconds, Fain moved to the left wing, glanced up at the clock then cut inside where he hit what proved to be the winning shot. The Colt senior finished with 18 points off 7-for-14 shooting and had six rebounds.
“Chase is a senior and he’s the guy that we want to have the ball in that situation because he’s a good shooter,” West Jessamine coach Damon Kelley said. “He can put the ball on the floor and finish, and he’s a good passer, too, if they double him. He made a nice play for us to win the game.”
Lincoln (1-5) had time after the Fain shot to attempt a potential tying or game-winning goal, but could not get off a shot before the buzzer.
“We didn’t execute at the end,” Jackson said. “When they scored, I should have called timeout but, too, we had something set to get the ball in. Four seconds is a long time, but we didn’t execute.”
The Patriots had their share of chances before Fain ever took his final shot. They outscored the Colts from the field, connecting on 24 of 42 shot attempts for 57 percent, including an 8-for-16 effort from 3.
West Jessamine also shot well at 51 percent, but had two less shots to fall from both 2-point and 3-point range, going 22-for-43 from 2 and 6-for-10 from 3.
It was at the charity stripe that West Jessamine got the edge it needed, sinking 14 of 20 foul shot attempts while Lincoln finished at 6-for-12. The Patriots were just 3-for-7 in the fourth quarter.
“We had opportunities. If we’d just made our free throws it could be a different story,” Jackson said. “They got three offensive rebounds under three minutes (to play) and got two baskets and got fouled on the other one. We were 3 out of 7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and one of those is a front end. We make our free throws, we get one or two of those rebounds that we didn’t get and it could’ve been different.”
Neither team led by more than seven points in the game, with the margin averaging around three points. There were five ties in the game and 10 lead changes.
West Jessamine owned the early lead with Rashawn Jackson tallying the first basket. Jacob Conway, who had 22 points for Lincoln, got the Patriots started with two free throws to tie it up.
The two teams traded buckets until the two minute mark of the first quarter when Lincoln broke on a 10-2 run. Hoover and Conway bombed in back-to-back 3-pointers, Luke Hill followed with an inside bucket then Conway closed with a jumper to put the Patriots up 19-12.
“Lincoln is young but they are very disciplined, very mature,”¿Kelley said. “They did a very good job of being disciplined until we made a mistake and then they shot the lights out when we did. It’s one thing to be disciplined and be patient but to actually then stick the shots as consistently as they did is a credit to them.”
Fain pushed in 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter but could not help West Jessamine regain the lead.
Lincoln led by as many as seven points in the second period, bombing in four treys to hold West off. Shade Jacobs hit twice from 3 and Conway and Brandon Pittman each hit for one.
Fain collected a trey and a field goal late in the first half and Daulton Peters scored off a missed Colt free throw to challenge Lincoln 32-31 before Pittman hit for his 3 to make it 35-31 at the break.
Lincoln was holding to a seven-point lead in the third quarter, with Hill, who had a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, getting nine in the frame.
“They did a good job taking the 3s away the second half and Luke stepped up and I thought played a really good half,”¿Jackson said.
Kelley said it was a “pick your poison type of thing” when deciding how to defend against Lincoln.
“The first half the 3s killed us, and the second half they hurt us inside,”¿he said. “We did a better job the second half in staying home on the shooters, but then they started to go to Hill more on the inside and we had a harder time stopping him and keeping him off the board.”
West Jessamine did stop Hill enough to negate Lincoln’s lead. Will Henderson swished the nets for two 3-pointers, a bucket and two free throws and Daulton Peters, who led West with 22 points, closed the frame with a trey to tie the game at 46-all.
Peters then sank two free throws to start the fourth and put West up 48-46. The lead would change four more times before Fain’s final bucket. Conway hit for Lincoln midway of the fourth for the final Pat lead, 57-54. Peters went 3-for-4 at the foul line and Fain went 1-for-2 to give the edge back to West, 59-57 with 2:08 to play.
Hoover and Hill got a field goal apiece for Lincoln in the final 1:36 but missing two out of three free throws proved costly for the Pats as the Colts collected the win.
“You know they are really good,”¿Jackson said of West Jessamine. “I voted them No. 1 in our region in pre-season. Our kids are hurting right now because they know how good West Jessamine is, but we didn’t make crucial stops and we didn’t make our free throws.”
“Tonight, I thought we played hard and I¿thought our effort was good,” he added. “We’re getting better and I see improvement, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”