RICHMOND — The Lincoln County boys battled back from a 20-point first-half deficit to pull within three late in the fourth quarter Friday night against host Madison Central.
But finishing off the Indians proved a little difficult.
Timmy Taylor and BJ Hoover both nailed 3-pointers and Brandon Pittman sank two free throws to get the Patriots within 46-43 with 3 minutes, 4 seconds to go in the game, however, Madison Central scored nine of the final 12 points of the game to hold off Lincoln 55-46.
“I’m proud of our kids for keeping their heads up,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “ They (Indians) are very good and I¿thought we were a little bug-eyed, big-eyed to start the game, and were tentative overall. But we had a good talk at halftime about things we needed to do, and I thought we did that. Our effort was good the second half and we played hard. I wish we could put together 32 minutes of that effort and that intensity.”
The Patriots (8-12) spotted the Indians (15-3) a 31-11 lead with 1:03 to play in the first half, but Lincoln used a 7-0 scoring run to close the gap and the half.
Jacob Conway sank two free throws and Timmy Taylor followed with a field goal before Conway put a dramatic finish on the half by launching a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from in front of the Lincoln bench to make it 31-18.
“Timmy got a basket late then Jacob hit the 3 and that gave us a little momentum,” Jackson said. “We told them coming off the floor, ‘We’ve got a game.’”
Lincoln turned up its defensive intensity in the third quarter, becoming much more physical, especially inside. The Patriots forced Central, which shot 37 percent (15-for-41) from the field overall, to miss several closely-contested shots and held the Indians to just 7 percent shooting (1-for-14) in the third.
BJ Hoover extended Lincoln’s first-half ending run to 10-0 when he nailed a 3-pointer to open the second half and get the Patriots within 31-21.
But Central’s Ken-Jah Bosley, who had a game-high 19 points, ended the Indians scoring drought by sinking two free throws two minutes into the third quarter. He then tallied the lone Indian goal of the period and added two more free throws to extend the lead to 39-25 with 2:56 left in the third.
Lincoln responded with another 10-0 run to cut the margin to single digits. Hoover opened the run late in the third with a bucket in the paint, Taylor followed with a bucket off a turnover and Conway closed the period with a layup to make it 39-31. Luke Hill then hit inside to open the fourth quarter and Taylor, who led Lincoln with 18 points and five assists, went to the free throw line for two shots to trim Central’s lead to 39-35.
The treys by Taylor and Hoover and Conway’s two free throw tosses made it a 46-43 fight with 3:04 to play, but Central thwarted Lincoln’s comeback effort. Dominique Hawkins, who finished with 17 points and five rebounds, and Quan Taylor who had 10 points and 12 boards, added a bucket apiece in the final three minutes and the Indians went 5-for-12 at the foul line to move on for the win.
“We wanted to cut it down to about 7 or 8 after three, and we did that. Then we had it to three a couple times and just couldn’t get stops, and we missed a couple free throws,” Jackson said. “We were 7 out of 13 the fourth quarter from the free-throw line, 10 out of 18 for the game. It’s hard to mount the kind of comeback that you have to have against a team like this when you’re missing your free throws and not making stops.”
Central never trailed, scoring the first eight points of the game and posted a 15-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Lincoln, which shot a chilly 22 percent (6-for-27) from the field the first half, finished at 33 percent¿overall, going 15-for-45, 6-for-19 from 3. At the line, the Patriots were 10-for-18.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get off to a better start,” Jackson said. “We got off to this kind of start tonight against Henderson, Bryan Station – the kind of start where we’ve gotten down and we’ve had to fight. It drains you, especially when you are as young as we are, to get back in it, but we gave a good team effort tonight to get back in the game.”
Central was 4-for-13 from 3-point range and 21-for-34 from the free-throw line.
The Indians outrebounded the Patriots 38-26, led by Quan Taylor’s 12 boards. Conway, who finished with 12 points, led Lincoln on the glass with nine boards. Brandon Pittman had five.