"We knew we had to front (True) for us to have a chance, and I thought (Blake) Roberts did and excellent job in doing that," Clayton Cash said. "We also knew that in doing that we would have to give up something in return, and we gave up too many 3-point shots early in the game. I thought the key to the game, though, was we were able to limit the touches that True had."
Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said the game boiled down to execution.
"I told coach Cash after the game that his kids played harder than we did and he said 'That's the only way we can win'," Jackson said. "I thought that was a great statement. His kids out-rebounded us by 10, got every loose ball and just wanted the game more than we did. That's the bottom line."
True did manage to scored five points during the second frame, and the Patriots led 23-18 at the break.
"Despite having the lead, we didn't do a good job executing, we didn't move the ball and we didn't fight very hard for loose balls," Jackson said. "We just didn't play very well. Their matchup zone caused us a lot of problems and we didn't seem to be in the game mentally. We have to get better on the defensive end, too."
True had six points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in the third quarter, but Cash countered with a pair of 3-pointers and a layup as the period ended to give the Rockets a 32-31 lead.
Patriots go cold in second half
The Patriots, who hit 41 percent of their shots during the first half, simply could not find the basket during the second half while hitting only eight of 25 tries from the field.
Rockcastle took time off the clock by spreading the floor. Cash scored five points while Devin Taylor added four and Cash hit four straight attempts to give Rockcastle its largest lead at 45-39.
Hart's half-court shot at the final horn accounted for Lincoln's final basket.
"We set a few screens for Aaron down the stretch and he was able to knock them down," the Rockcastle coach said. "I real proud of the effort our entire team gave."
Jackson, however, had a different look at the game as far as his team was concerned.
"We try to set plays, but we don't move toward the ball," the Lincoln coach said. "We took quick shots and made terrible decisions at times. We had a great week of practice and I will have to say the way we played tonight surprised me. What hurts me the most, though, was we got outworked. That bothers me quite a bit. We have to get better as a team and I have to do a better job coaching before next week."
The Patriots finished the game 17 of 47 from the field for 36 percent while Rockcastle hit the same amount of shots in 49 tries for 34 percent. True led Lincoln in rebounding with 12 and had six blocked shots and the Patriots turned the ball over 15 times compared to 13 for Rockcastle.