Lincoln looks to the middle for victory over Mercer

February 15, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - Jeff Jackson didn't like what he was seeing from his Lincoln County Patriots on offense at the start of Friday's game against Mercer County.

The Lincoln coach called a timeout midway through the first quarter after his team failed to find a way to get the ball inside to 6-9 center Jonathan True.

Problem solved.

True scored three straight baskets and Lincoln pulled away late for a 58-48 win over Mercer. The senior finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots for the Patriots.

"He was playing hard, posting, trying to get the ball, but we just got out of sync and got wild offensively," Jackson said. "We weren't throwing the ball in there to him. He has to get touches, a lot of touches."


"They might have been trying to look for me, but they weren't getting a good angle to pass the ball into me," True said.

Lincoln (13-9) trailed 12-4 when Jackson called the timeout and had just four free throws to show for its efforts. After the timeout, however, True scored the first six points of a 10-0 Lincoln run that put the Patriots up 14-12 with 5:40 to play in the second quarter.

The Patriots hardly closed the game out there - the lead would change hands eight more times - and it wasn't even enough to push them to a halftime lead. But the run did instill more confidence into the Patriots that they could hit shots, something that came in handy as time ran down.

Lincoln took a 41-40 lead on a basket by Matt Reynolds with 6:14 to play in the game. The Patriots' Ryan Weller followed with his biggest shot of the season, a 3-pointer that put Lincoln up by four with 5:27 left.

Lincoln got the lead to 48-42 after two baskets by Jonathan True, and the Patriots went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the win.

"He hit a big 3 for us," Jackson said. "Ryan can help us, as can Jared Long. I've got to have both of those kids contributing in a big way. They've got to step up and continue to improve."

Patriots have big advantage at foul line

True hit 11 of 14 free throws in the game, and Lincoln converted on 20 of 25 attempts from the line. Mercer (13-11) didn't have nearly that many opportunities, as the Scotties were 1-for-2 from the foul line.

Mercer coach Greg Edwards had no comment on the disparity in free throws, but said his team had chances to win the game.

"We went several minutes there and we didn't get a basket," Edwards said. "We're not good enough offensively to go through droughts like that."

Mercer grabbed a 28-20 halftime cushion by closing the first half on a 13-2 run, including five points from Jordan Lyons.

"I thought that first half, we played about as good as we could play," Edwards said. "Our defense was good, we had 17 deflections. The big guy (True) hurt us the whole game, but I thought the first half we made it tough on him. We pushed him off the block a little bit, make him catch the ball and get his points. Up 28-20, I felt pretty good at that point."

True scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half, and he said he put it on his shoulders to help his team rebound.

"We didn't come out ready to play in the first half, so I knew I had to do something to get everyone on track," True said. "When you start scoring like that, you get going quick. I knew I had to step it up. When somebody steps up, everyone follows you and starts playing well."

Lincoln shot 46 percent (18-for-39) for the game and 80 percent on free throws. Lincoln also won the rebounding battle 32-21. Chris Hart and Nathan Norman each scored 11 points for Lincoln.

Mercer hit 20 of 48 shots for 42 percent, and the Scotties were led by Jordan Lyons' 14 points. Clif Watkins added 12 and John Lyons had five rebounds.

"I thought our first half was good, and we can build on that," Edwards said. "If we play good team basketball like we did the first half, we can play with anybody."

LINCOLN (13-9) - Ryan Weller 3, Kelly Reed 2, Matt Reynolds 6, Chris Hart 11, Nathan Norman 11, Jonathan True 25.

MERCER (8-11) - Clif Watkins 12, Kameron McRay 4, Jordan Lyons 14, Daniel Goodpaster 4, John Lyons 9, Michael Bottoms 3, Colby Warren 2.

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