Hart, True lead Lincoln's victory over Danville

February 09, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

STANFORD - It looked like a tournament, it felt like a tournament, and there was even a prize for the winner.

But the Lincoln County boys insist they didn't gain much of an advantage by winning the No. 1 seed for the 45th District Tournament with their 61-52 victory Friday night over Danville.

The two teams were playing for the best bracket line in the district tourney Lincoln will host next month. But Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said earning the No. 1 seed only places a bigger target on the Patriots' backs.

"We've still got to come out and bring it," Jackson said. "We've got to work harder and continue to try to get better."


Still, earning the top seed was a point of pride for the Lincoln players.

"I think it's real big with the district on our floor," Lincoln guard Chris Hart said. "We wanted to come in tonight and take care of business and win the No. 1 seed."

Hart and Jonathan True combined for 29 points in the second half to lead Lincoln's comeback from a 10-point deficit. The Patriots (12-9, 5-1 district) outscored Danville 40-25 after the half, shooting 52.2 percent from the field while Danville (8-12, 4-2) shot 20.5 percent.

The game drew Lincoln's biggest crowd of the season and featured two vocal student sections that added to the charged atmosphere.

"There definitely was a lot of emotion," Hart said. "The crowd was really into it. It was fun."

Danville, which bounced back to beat Whitefield 70-63 on Saturday, also lost to Lincoln 66-53 on Jan. 12, but coach Craig Pippen said the Admirals can challenge Lincoln if there is a third game between the teams in the district final.

"I think we can," Pippen said. "We've improved a lot, and we want to improve some more before the district tournament."

Lincoln seized control of the game at the start of the second half, outscoring Danville 11-2 over the first four minutes to take a 32-29 lead.

The Patriots broke a 39-all tie by opening the fourth quarter with seven straight points. Danville closed within 48-45 but was outscored 8-2 over the next 2:25.

The Patriots turned often in the second half to center Jonathan True, who scored seven points in that run and 17 in the second half after sitting out the second quarter due to foul trouble.

"They let me play in the second half," True said. "A lot of referees don't do that."

Jackson said Nathan Norman and Hart did a good job of getting the ball to their big man.

"We allowed him to catch the ball too much on the post, and he did a good job once he got it," Pippen said.

Pippen said Danville's defense also left Hart open too many times in the second half, and Hart had another big game against the Admirals.

He scored 29 points in the first game against Danville and 28 this time around. He was 4-for-10 from 3-point range and 10-for-12 at the free-throw line, where Lincoln was 20-for-29.

In contrast, Lincoln held Danville's leading scorer, Chad Bartleson, to five points, all in the first half.

"We did a pretty good job on him defensively. I was really pleased with that," Jackson said.

No starter scored more than six points for Danville, which was 8-for-39 from the field in the second half and 17-for-62 (27.4 percent) overall. Eric Caldwell and Darius Baughman led the Admirals with 11 points each.

True had 19 points and eight rebounds for Lincoln, and Matt Reynolds had eight of his nine rebounds in the second half for the Patriots, who were outrebounded 44-37 but held a 13-9 edge in the fourth quarter.

"He made some big plays down the stretch," Hart said.

Lincoln was 12-for-33 from the field in the second half. The Patriots were 5-for-21 in the first half, went over 51/2 minutes before getting their first field goal and fell behind 23-13 in the second quarter.

"I think in the first half we came out a little too high," Hart said. "We were maybe too pumped up, and it hurt us a little bit."

Jackson said he saw that, too, but he saw a different team at the start of the second half.

"We calmed down a little bit and did the things we've worked on," he said. "We struggled with a lot of things early, but I thought we settled down and did some good things in the second half."

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