DANVILLE — The Lincoln County girls basketball team has now beaten rival Boyle County 15 straight times.
The Lady Patriots collected another big 45th District win in their latest victory, completing a sweep of the rival Lady Rebels with a 61-51 win Friday at Rebel Arena.
Lincoln (18-4, 5-0 district) had won the 14 previous games by an average margin of 29.2 points, but the Lady Patriots had to battle hard to fend off the Lady Rebels in the latest victory.
The district game was a back-and-forth battle for much of the first half, with Boyle holding a slim lead after the first, 16-14, and at the half, 30-28.
Then Lincoln took over.
The Lady Patriots used a 16-4 third quarter run to take control of the game and keep the win streak alive.
“I challenged them a little bit at halftime and told them we weren’t playing good defense – that was obvious,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “We didn’t have the intensity. Boyle County was whipping us. They were outworking us. They were getting loose balls. They were outscrapping us.”
So McWhorter left it up to the Lady Patriots to remedy the defensive situation.
“I told them at halftime that it was up to them if they wanted to come back out in man,” she said. “I like to play (man), it helps us to get after it and get easy baskets, but we got into foul trouble tonight. I told them pretty much, ‘If we were only going to guard the trash can, we’d go to the zone, but if they wanted to play man-to-man they’d come out and tell me.’ They came back out and said, ‘We want to play man, Coach.’ And they picked up the intensity.”
Emily Fox, who finished with 14 points, opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer, a free throw toss and an inside bucket to put the Lady Patriots on top 34-30.
Lincoln never trailed again, taking control of the game with a 16-4 run over a span of 5 minutes, 13 seconds. Sydney Harris, who double-doubled with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Spencer Sims connected for back-to-back 3-pointers to close the run with Lincoln up 44-34.
Boyle (10-10, 2-3) was within seven, 46-39, going into the fourth quarter and again in the final frame, but Lincoln went on a 9-2 run to put the Lady Rebels away. Fox capped the run with a three-point play for a 57-43 lead with 3:19 to play.
Kourtney Belcher, who also double-doubled for Lincoln with 17 points and 10 rebounds, came to life in the second half with 12 points and eight boards, collecting her last six points in the 9-2 run.
“She got off to a slow start at the beginning and I think it frustrated her a little bit. The second half she really came out fired up and hit the boards hard and got some critical rebounds,” McWhorter said. “Her and Sydney really did a good job on the boards.”
In Lincoln’s comeback win over Boyle back on Jan. 11, McWhorter benched her five starters after the Lady Patriots fell behind. McWhorter didn’t have to do any benching Friday.
“I don’t like to do that. My demeanor is not to yell and scream,” McWhorter said. “It didn’t reach that point, but it’s frustrating when you know what your players are capable of and it’s not happening on the floor. So sometimes you’ve got to challenge them a little bit.”
Boyle, which shot 30 percent (14-for-46) from the field overall, was 7-for-26 in the second half.
Lincoln shot 43 percent (24-for-56) from the field, collecting five 3-pointers. At the foul line, the team was 8-for-11.
The Lady Rebels were 21-for-29 from the foul line.
Lincoln held the night’s first lead, jumping out to a 12-4 lead behind two buckets and two free throws from Harris and a 3-pointer from both Saylor and Fox.
But Boyle answered with a 12-2 run to move on top. The Lady Rebels converted for six free throws and Marlee Smith added six more points, converting on a three-point play and hitting a deep 3-pointer just before the buzzer for Boyle’s first lead, 16-14.
The lead changed hands four times in the second quarter. Boyle led 18-14 less than a minute into the period off two Chelsea Gill free throws, but neither team led by more than two points over the remainder of the half.
The game was deadlocked at 28-all with nine seconds left in the half before Gill went to the line for two more free throws and a 30-28 Boyle edge.
“We got what we wanted early, the looks that we wanted. Defensively, we just had a letdown the first half,”¿McWhorter said. “To Boyle’s credit, they were attacking the rim and going for the fouls and we weren’t sliding over and taking charges or playing good defense, and that hurt us because they were getting to the free throw line.”
Boyle scored 15 points from the field and 15 from the line in the first half, going 7-for-22 from the field and 15-for-18 at the line.
Lincoln controlled the glass, outrebounding Boyle 42-30. Cami Holton led the Lady Rebels with eight boards.
Hannah Harris led Boyle’s scoring with 18 points.