Young Lincoln tops Pioneers

December 08, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - As the area's youngest team, the Lincoln County Patriots are going to make their share of mistakes. But they've also shown that they're going to be able to overcome them on some nights.

Lincoln did that Tuesday night when it shot the ball well and forced host Harrodsburg into making more mistakes than it did to claim a 67-49 victory.

It took some time for the Patriots to put Harrodsburg away, but they did it in the fourth quarter by making nine of 10 shots from the field and holding the Pioneers one basket in a span of more than five minutes.

"We showed some composure in the last four or five minutes," Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. "Our shot selection was better and our defense got better."


Lincoln (2-1) had little experience returning from last year's team, which led all area boys teams in wins with 18 in its first year under Jackson. There aren't any seniors on this year's roster, and the starting lineup consists of three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.

"When you've got juniors and sophomores as leaders, you're young," Jackson said.

It was the second straight double-digit win for the Patriots, but Jackson said they weren't as sharp as in their 65-50 win over Wayne County last week.

"We didn't come in as focused and mentally prepared as we did Friday," he said. "We have to learn how to do that. We're so young and inexperienced, we knew it would be a roller coaster emotionally."

Harrodsburg is young team, too

Harrodsburg (0-3) is on the same kind of ride. The Pioneers are a young team with a young coach, Chad Luhman, who said he expects the Pioneers' improvement to come by degrees.

"We're going to get better," Luhman said. "This is just one of those processes you go through."

Harrodsburg committed 26 turnovers against Lincoln.

"As young as we are right now, we've just got to start being smarter and learning how to take care of the basketball," he said.

The Pioneers also saw their field-goal shooting slip from 43 percent in the first half to 35 percent in the second. They were 8-for-23 from the field after halftime, while Lincoln was 15-26 in the second half and 25-for-43 (58.1 percent) overall.

The Patriots are playing at a faster pace this season, and that's leading to more high-percentage shots.

"This year we're more of a run-and-gun team," said forward Matt Reynolds, who led Lincoln with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

Reynolds, the only junior who started last season, has had to become a leader for the Patriots. But Reynolds won't be expected to carry the offensive load. Six players scored between seven and 14 points, and Jackson said such balance won't be uncommon.

"It's going to be somebody new every night," Jackson said. "We don't have a per se go-to guy offensively."

Lincoln has strong freshman class

What Lincoln does have is better depth, thanks to a strong freshman class. One of those freshmen, Daniel Ralston, gave the Patriots a boost with 12 points on four 3-point goals. He hit two in a row during a 14-3 run that allowed Lincoln to stretch its lead from eight points to 19 at 58-39 with 3:35 remaining.

Jackson said Lincoln's defense also played a role in that run, as the Patriots abandoned their attempts to press and trap in favor of a half-court defense.

"I thought our half-court defense in the fourth quarter was pretty good," he said.

Three Pioneers were unable to play: Justin Doolin, who is expected to miss two more weeks with a strained knee ligament; Kenton Masterson, who is out indefinitely with a hairline fracture in his lower leg; and Brandon Cooper, who was ill.

Chase Wofford led Harrodsburg with 14 points, though he went 0-for-6 at the free-throw line and had two free throws negated when he committed lane violations. He also had a game-high 14 rebounds, helping the Pioneers outrebound Lincoln 34-23.

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