The Lincoln County Middle School eighth-grade Eagles capped off a sensational 35-7 season by finishing as runners-up in the Kentucky Basketball Academy (KBA) 8th-Grade State Tournament this past weekend in Lexington.
Seventy-six of the top middle school teams in the state converged on the KBA to participate in the tourney, and the Lincoln squad overcame a shaky start to finish second overall.
Lincoln, led by head coach Eric Ralston and assistant coach Danny Griffin, dropped its first game in pool play but rebounded to pick up six straight wins before falling 51-44 to Southern Pulaski in Sunday’s championship game.
The members of the state runner-up squad are: Devin Alcorn, Noah Young, Tristan Helton, Garrett Clem, Noah Horton, Tanner McAninch, Ryan Montgomery, Trey Miller, Hayden Gifford, Blake Eldridge, Chase Phillips and Nick Noland.
In pool play, Scott County got the best of Lincoln in its opener, rolling 52-35 Friday, but Lincoln came back on Saturday to edge out North Oldham 54-53 in the second game to earn a 12th seed in the Eagles’ region.
In a format like the NCAA tournament, the middle school tourney was broken up into four regions with 68 teams being seeded 1 through 16 seeds.
The Eagles faced off with some of the top seeds as tournament play got under way, beginning with No. 5 seed Conner Middle. Lincoln won 56-41 over Conner in the Saturday game then proceeded to whip Jackson County, the 4 seed, 62-33 to advance to the Sweet 16.
Lincoln just got by Northern Pulaski 60-57 to reach Sunday’s quarterfinals. The Eagles faced Hopkinsville in the Elite 8 game and moved on with a 60-48 victory. Moss Middle of Bowling Green was now all that stood between Lincoln and a title shot and the Eagles punched their ticket to the title tilt with a 48-38 victory.
Noah Young was Lincoln’s leading scorer for the state tournament with 141 total points and made the All-Tournament First Team. He led Lincoln in the Northern Pulaski win with 34 points and led with 20 points against Moss.
Tanner McAninch was second in scoring with 79 points, including a 24-pointer effort in the Hopkinsville win.
Young and McAninch also finished 1-2 in assists, with Young leading the team with 26 assists and McAninch chipping in with 25 assists.
Blake Eldridge led the team in rebounding with 49 boards. McAninch had 27.
McAninch led the team with 17 steals while Devin Alcorn had 15 steals in the tournament.
Noah Horton led the team in 3-point percentage shooting (46%), going 11-for-24. Alcorn was 4 of 10 from 3-point range shooting 40% for the tournament.
The Eagles had a successful run in tournaments this past season, winning two out of the three they participated in. Lincoln won both the Mercer County Invitational Holiday Tournament and the Salt River Conference Tournament.