Lincoln rolls past Mercer 82-57

March 10, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LONDON - The party rolls on for the Lincoln County Patriots.

The Patriots arrived at the 12th Region Tournament in high spirits, and they weren't about to let Mercer County rain on their parade.

Lincoln left Mercer behind at the start of the second half Tuesday, doubling its lead from 10 points to 20 in the first three minutes of the third period and romping on to an 82-57 win in the final first-round game.

The Patriots were enjoying themselves throughout a second half that saw them go 16-for-21 from the field.

"We were ready for tonight," Lincoln forward Nathan Norman said. "This is fun, and we all wanted to come back again."


Norman poured in 31 points to lead the Patriots, who will be back Friday night for a semifinal against tournament host South Laurel, which opened a 30-4 lead against McCreary Central and cruised to an 84-33 win.

Lincoln (18-11) racked up 50 points after halftime as it reached its highest win total since the 1993-94 season, but coach Jeff Jackson said the Patriots put Mercer away with defense.

"We didn't defend well in the first half, but I thought we came out in the third quarter and defended well and contested their shooters," Jackson said.

That helped the Patriots put together a 12-2 run over the first 2:57 of that period to take a 44-24 lead that left Mercer (11-16) reeling.

"We wanted to try to set the tone those first three or four minutes of the third quarter and get off to a good start," Jackson said.

Mercer coach Greg Edwards said the combination of accurate shooting - Lincoln shot 88.9 percent in the third quarter and 61.4 percent overall - and increased intensity on defense was too much for his team to overcome.

"Right now they're on a roll, and this is a good time to be on a roll," Edwards said.

This was Lincoln's second win over Mercer in less than a month. Lincoln trailed 28-20 at halftime on Feb. 13 before rallying to win 58-48 at Mercer.

"We knew they were going to come out strong because we'd beat them on their home floor," Norman said.

Mercer planned to draw True away from the basket

Mercer had a different plan of attack this time, which was to draw Lincoln's defense, and specifically center Jonathan True, away from the basket with 3-point shots..

"The last couple of games in the district they had been shooting the ball outside more. They really had (center Daniel) Goodpaster stepping out behind the line, and we thought they might try to bring Jonathan out on the floor," Jackson said.

But the plan didn't work because the shots didn't fall.

Goodpaster, whom Edwards said had been sinking 3-pointers consistently in recent practices, took and missed the Scotties' first five shots, including three from 3-point range.

"In that offensive set we put in, he was knocking them down in practice," Edwards said. "We told Daniel he'd have some opportunities, but he got a couple blocked on him, and he hesitated a little after that."

Goodpaster went 1-for-7 from long range in the first half and 1-for-8 overall.

But it wasn't just him. The Scotties hit only one of their first 14 3-point tries, and they were 4-for-17 at halftime and 9-for-32 overall.

"Had those fallen, (True) has to come out on us, and it might've been a different game," Edwards said. "You don't make them, and he gets to stay in there."

True blocked shots both outside and in, rejecting nine shots to go with 16 points and nine rebounds.

While Mercer was missing, Chris Hart buried consecutive 3s to start the game for Lincoln, and the Patriots soon held an 11-2 lead.

They stretch their lead to 27-13 in the second quarter, led 32-22 at halftime, then opened the second half with seven straight points, including five more by Norman, who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 10-for-15 overall from the field.

Lincoln went 8-for-9 from the field in the third quarter, during which it led by as many as 21 points, and the Patriots went 27-for-44 overall. They also went 8-for-18 from 3-point range and 20-for-23 at the free-throw line.

"They were just making shots," Edwards said.

Mercer never did. The Scotties were 21-for-67 (31.3 percent), and they were outrebounded 36-28.

Michael Bottoms had a team-high 14 points for Mercer, which graduates only one regular contributor.

"Most people thought we might win five games, and we won 11," said Edwards, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in September. "I think we've got the possibility of having a good team next year."

MERCER (11-16) - John Lyons 4, Daniel Goodpaster 7, Kameron McRay 6, Michael Bottoms 14, Jordan Lyons 6, Calen Hazelwood 2, Andy Potts 2, Andrew McCloud 4, John Wickliffe 2, Daryl Smith 2, Blake Yeager 2, Colby Warren 6.

LINCOLN (18-11) - Matt Reynolds 7, Nathan Norman 31, Jonathan True 16, Kelly Reed 2, Chris Hart 14, Matt Ruckel 2, Justin Kolasa 3, Zackary Kersey 2, Braxston Miller 2, Nate Rice 3.

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