Lady Pat coach Don Story said the team's determination, plus the fact that Lincoln had already secured a berth in the 12th Region Tournament, contributed to one of Lincoln's "better games" of the season.
"It seemed like we didn't play with any jitters tonight," said Story. "I think the other night (semifinals) we were a little tight because you're thinking, 'If you get beat, you're done.' Tonight, the security of knowing you're moving on anyway kind of frees you up to play your best game. And I felt like we played one of our better games tonight all the way around."
"They really wanted this."
A hot-handed offense helped Lincoln get what it wanted, with the Lady Patriots shooting 53 percent from the field and getting 16 assists. Lincoln connected on 26 of 49 shot attempts, 4-for-9 from 3-point range. From the foul line, Lincoln was 16-for-22 for 73 percent.
Sophomore guard Jessica Upchurch led Lincoln's offense with a team-high 21 points.
But Upchurch didn't work alone. Lincoln had four players in double figures in the game with center Kendra Brown scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, reserve center Keira Henderson finishing with 12 points and guard Nikki Bustle adding 11 points and five assists.
Meanwhile, the Lady Patriot defense was making an impact of its own on Danville. Lincoln held the Lady Admirals to 36 percent shooting, 16-for-44, forced 19 turnovers and got seven blocked shots from Brown.
Lane, who had seven points and four assists in the game, stole six Danville possessions and grabbed six rebounds while handling the defensive assignment on Danville's leading scorer, Tasha Milby.
Milby led the night's scoring with 27 points, going 10-for-13 at the free throw line, but she couldn't lead Danville over Lincoln.
"Milby will always get her points," said Lane. "If you can keep the ball out of her hands, that's good, but, when she gets it, you've got to just stay off. She's pretty much going to shoot it. She doesn't pass a lot. She's going to shoot it, so try not to foul her when she does."
Lane says Brown's and Henderson's support inside helps when Milby slips by.
"It helps with Kendra and Keira, our 'bigs,' inside because, if Milby beats me or one of our guards, they're there to stop her," she said.
Milby wasn't beating the Lincoln defense early on. The Danville senior got only two points in the first quarter as Lincoln opened up a 13-4 lead. The Lady Pats hit five of their first eight shots and forced five Danville turnovers in the first 4:02. Upchurch tallied five points in the first half of the period, Brown picked up four points and Alissa Patterson and Lane each had two points.
Xerces Simpson, who contributed 20 points for Danville and gave the Lady Ads their only lead of the game off a game-opening trey, carried the Lady Ad scoring in the first quarter, pushing in eight of the team's points as Lincoln took a 19-11 lead.
Lincoln led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, but Danville managed to trim the margin to six, 26-20, midway of the second and nine, 35-26, at the half. Milby started to find her shot in the second quarter, pouring in 12 points to help close the gap.
The single-digit deficit would not last.
Lincoln opened the second half with a 9-2 run to set the Lady Patriots up for the easy win. Lane opened the run with a coast-to-coast layup off a rebound and Upchurch followed with seven points to put Lincoln up 44-28 with 4:31 to go in the third.
Lincoln held a 52-36 advantage at the end of the third and was up by as many as 21 in the fourth as the Lady Pats moved on to clinch the district title.
Lane said she was relieved that Lincoln got to enjoy the impending victory long before the final buzzer.
"I'd much rather have that win than an at-the-last-second win. Those close games stress me out," she said.
Story said that, from start to finish, Lincoln was "on top of the game."
"We've been waiting for everybody to click, and we've done it a few times this year, but tonight I felt like everybody was pretty much on top of the game from handling the ball to post play to defense," he said.
Story is hopeful that Lincoln can continue to be "on top of the game" as the 12th Region Tournament opens at LCHS.
"We've got to carry that over to the region," Story said. "We're going to take one game at a time. We felt like we did that tonight and it turned out pretty good for us. We just focused on this game and played very well."