Ugly or not, beating Casey has Lincoln back winning

January 28, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LIBERTY - This was not Lincoln County's most impressive win of the season, but it was just what the Patriots needed.

It was a win they had to work for, a start toward getting back on track after their most disappointing loss of the season.

The Patriots' 53-41 victory over Casey County Tuesday was, in their own words, ugly. Not that they were complaining.

"There's nothing wrong with winning ugly," Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. "I've watched great teams win ugly all the time. I'm not saying we're a great team, but we need to win to get better."

Lincoln bounced back from its surprising loss to Boyle County five days earlier. Maybe not all the way back, but far enough to satisfy Jackson.


"We won a district game in a tough place to play," Jackson said. "I thought we gutted it out. We did the things we had to do to win."

Those things included holding Casey to a dismal shooting mark of 26.7 percent and controlling the boards, where the Patriots held a 35-25 advantage.

The performance follows what Jackson said were three good practices since Lincoln's loss Friday. The Patriots practiced twice on Saturday, then held a harder-than-usual workout Monday.

"We had our best practice of the year yesterday," Jackson said. "It's usually a preparation day, but we didn't prepare, we just played. I'm sure their legs are a little heavy tonight, but they'll be OK."

Any pain they're feeling probably didn't compare to the sting of their 62-47 loss to Boyle.

"We were pretty embarrassed after that game," Lincoln guard Chris Hart said. "We just wanted to come out tonight and try to win to get back on track. We need to play a lot better than we have been lately."

If this was an ugly game for Lincoln (10-8, 4-1 45th District), it had to be even uglier for Casey (6-11, 1-3), which had two more turnovers than field goals as it went 12-for-45 from the field.

"And they were good shots," Casey coach Shawn Conley said. "For the most part, we had some pretty good looks."

Conley said he also thought the Rebels might fare better on the boards than they did.

"We really worked hard getting ready for this game on rebounding," he said.

Rebounding edge goes to Patriots

Lincoln center Jonathan True got his share of rebounds, snaring a game-high 12 boards, but the Patriots also had eight rebounds from Matt Reynolds and five from Hart. Meanwhile, no Casey player had more than four.

Lincoln also shot a respectable 43.6 percent (17-for-39) from the field and was 9-for-18 in the second half.

True and Hart each went 8-for-14; True led all scorers with 21 points, while Hart had 19.

Jared Long started in place of guard Nathan Norman, who served a one-game suspension for being ejected at Boyle.

"Somebody had to step up, and Jared did a good job," Jackson said.

While Long and reserves Ryan Weller, Justin Kolasa and Nate Rice filled Norman's shoes, Hart filled up the baskets from 3-point range, where he was 4-for-8.

"I thought Hart really hurt us," Conley said. "He got some good looks."

Hart hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Lincoln take a 13-7 lead, and his 3-pointer with 2:07 left in the third quarter capped an 8-2 run that gave the Patriots a 38-24 lead.

Conley said Casey also was unable to take advantage of Lincoln's switch to a 2-3 zone defense during that run.

"We got some wide-open looks and were not able to convert," Conley said. "After that, we got real still on offense and went kind of flat."

Lincoln took its largest lead at 46-30 with 3:37 remaining, then saw Casey use an 11-3 run to pull within eight points with 1:22 left.

The Patriots made things a little harder for themselves by missing eight of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter, including six of 11 in the last 21/2 minutes.

"We kind of had to hang in there, but I'm not too sure that two or three weeks ago we'd have been able to hang in there," Jackson said.

Casey got 15 points from Dustin Johnson and 13 from Charlie Fox, and Conley said the Rebels also got some positives from this game, its fifth straight loss and its eighth in nine games.

"I thought our kids played hard, and I thought we got better tonight," Conley said. "We played with more chemistry than we have."

LINCOLN (10-8) - Matt Reynolds 2, Jonathan True 21, Jared Long 3, Kelly Reed 5, Chris Hart 19, Ryan Weller 3.

CASEY (6-11) - Charlie Fox 13, Keith Price 6, Dustin Johnson 15, Corey Dial 3, Andy Canon 1, Derek Stevens 2, Russell Abner 1.

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