Seniors helped Lincoln reach success

March 15, 2004|MARTY WARREN

LONDON - When the season began, many people didn't know what type of team Lincoln County would have.

The Patriots, who lost in the opening round of the 12th Region Tournament in 2003, had a new coach in Jeff Jackson who had experienced what winning a state tournament was all about when he guided University Heights to a state title in 1992.

What Jackson found out was that he had six seniors that gave their best effort night in and night out before the Patriots dropped a 56-52 decision to host South Laurel in the regional semifinals here Friday night.

"I would go into a foxhole with any one of these seniors," Jackson said after the game. "They laid a great foundation for us and our future is bright."


The seniors helped Lincoln put together an 18-12 record and win the 45th District championship.

"Coach Jackson came in and taught us what we needed to do to be a successful basketball team," said senior Nathan Norman, who scored 31 points Monday during the Patriots' first-round win over Mercer. "Many people didn't expect us to win many games early in the season, but we came together and started playing as a team about halfway through the season."

Chris Hart, who was Lincoln's best outside shooter, agreed that it took awhile for everything to fall into place.

"The beginning of the year was tough trying to learn coach Jackson's system," said Hart, who led the Patriots in scoring at 17 points per game. "It took us until midseason for us to come around and I felt like we were playing our best basketball at the end of the year. We started to peak at the right time."

Jackson believes True's best basketball is ahead of him

Jackson helped Greg Buckner, Lamont Barnes, Isiah Victor, Sergio Luke and others improve their game while at University Heights and all of them had successful careers while in college. He said 6-10 senior center Jonathan True's best basketball is still ahead of him, too.

"His footwork and confidence got better as the year went along," Jackson said. "He started believing he could be a great player and improved tremendously. He is still young and his best basketball is a couple years down the road. If he gets in the right program, gets the right coaching and gets stronger, he will make some school an outstanding basketball player."

Jackson said Norman played just like he practiced every day - all out from the time he hit the floor.

"He has great energy and played the game hard," the Lincoln coach said. "Even at our 6 a.m. practices, he was diving on the floor for loose balls."

Despite losing the six seniors, which also included Justin Kolasa, John Henry Russell and Nate Rice, Jackson said things are looking bright for Lincoln.

"Our sophomore class is good," Jackson said. "Matt Reynolds started for us this year while Ryan Keller and Jared Long gave us some valuable minutes during the year. Zach Kersey is about 6-3 and will help us out inside next year.

"Kelly Reed is only a freshman, but he played well for us at the point and I expect really good things out of him. Our eighth grade class is outstanding.

"I hate losing, just like any coach does, but this team got better as the year went along. This group of underclassmen will get better, though, because they had to practice every day with these seniors. They were a very special group of kids to me."

Central Kentucky News Articles