LANCASTER — Oh, what a difference a few days makes.
When Lincoln hosted Garrard on Jan. 7, the Patriots held the Golden Lions scoreless in the second quarter and steamrolled their way to a 29-point victory.
Garrard would not go down so easily in Tuesday’s 45th District rematch at the Lions’ den.
The Lions had Lincoln down by one after the first quarter, traded runs in the second and outscored Lincoln in the final frame, but it still wouldn’t be enough to stop the Patriots, who surged in the second and third quarters to notch a 56-43 win.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming in here, and it was everything that we thought it would be,” Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said. “They’ve improved, and they play very hard, and they’re very, very well coached, and they’re getting better running their offense. We knew we were in for a battle when we came in here because this is a difficult place to play.”
It looked as if Lincoln (10-9, 4-0 district) might be on the road to another big win as play got under way Tuesday. Zack Hill opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, Micah Ward followed with a bucket off a Luke Hill assist and Zack Hill added a free throw to get Lincoln rolling 6-0.
Garrard’s Andrew York would have an answer to the Lincoln run, however, going coast to coast off a steal late in the first to set off a 7-0 run. York turned another Lincoln turnover into a 3-point bomb, then Josh Stull closed with a baseline drive to the bucket to edge the Golden Lions on top 7-6.
Unlike the first meeting, Garrard (3-15, 0-5) continued to battle in the second quarter. Lincoln went back up 11-7 early in the period off a Zack Hill putback and a Levi Gifford trey, only to have Corey Wilson and Billy Abney hit back-to-back buckets for Garrard to even the game at 11-all.
A three-point play by Hill nosed Lincoln back on top 14-11. Then after a Wilson free throw, Trenton Edgington nailed a buzzer-beater trey to put Lincoln up 17-12 at the half.
Garrard coach Brad Sizemore was happy with what he saw from his team Tuesday.
“It’s our thing to compete every day, and I think that was what was so disappointing the last time we played them, because I didn’t think we showed up,” he said. “Tonight we were competitive.”
“At Lincoln, there was a big crowd and our kids kind of got in a panic. I think now the kids are finally starting to relax and to play.”
Stull scored off an assist from York to get the second half started and pull Garrard within 17-14 when Lincoln struck with the game’s biggest run, 10-0.
Zack Hill, who led Lincoln with 17 points and eight boards, opened the run with a putback. Gifford followed with a 3-pointer off a turnover and Luke Hill scored inside off another Garrard miscue before Zack Hill closed with his own 3-pointer to put Lincoln up 27-14 with 3 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the third.
Garrard, which had 12 turnovers overall, went without a turnover for the remainder of the third, and the shots started to fall. The Lions were 3 for 5 in the final 3:26, with Abney and Markell Hayes both hitting inside and York getting a trey. Wilson kept Garrard within 35-23 with two free throws in the closing minutes.
Despite the scoring spurt, the Lions were unable to make a dent in Lincoln’s lead, with the Patriots going 4 for 5 in the final 3:11 to keep the margin at 15.
Luke Hill, who contributed 16 points in the win, hit first in the paint then added a three-point play, Micah Ward, who finished with 10 points, also converted on a three-point play, and then Edgington stepped behind the arc for a 3 that gave the Patriots a 38-23 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Luke Hill tallied nine of his points in the fourth quarter, including a bucket off an assist from older brother Zack with 4:44 to go for Lincoln’s largest lead of the night, 52-31.
“I thought our kids were focused the second half, and we did some things defensively that helped increase the tempo a little bit,” Jackson said.
Garrard managed to trim into Lincoln’s lead before the final buzzer with a 12-4 closing run. York, who led all scorers with 19 points, came up big for Garrard in the fourth with 11 points.
“It was a good win for us, a district win,” Jackson said. “They’re a good team, and you’ve got to be ready to play against them for 32 minutes. And I thought we were pretty solid for 32.”
Lincoln shot 55 percent for the game, connecting on 21 of 38 shot attempts. At the line, the Patriots were 8 for 13.
While not pleased with the loss, Sizemore said he felt good about Garrard’s effort.
“I think there was a three-minute stretch in the third quarter where we played kind of bad but, besides that, you know, I’m really pleased,” he said. “They probably could have pulled it out to 25, but we kind of kept competing and whittled it down.”
“I think our kids got some confidence tonight. I’m hoping tonight will springboard us in the right direction.”
Garrard finished at 36 percent from the field, going 13 for 36. The Golden Lions were 13 for 17 at the foul line.
Lincoln County 6 17 38 56
Garrard County 7 12 23 43
LINCOLN (10-9) — Trenton Edgington 6, Zack Hill 17, Carl-Lewis Cummins 1, Levi Gifford 6, Micah Ward 10, Luke Hill 16.
GARRARD (3-12) — Corey Wilson 7, Josh Stull 9, Billy Abney 2, Andrew York 19, Markell Hayes 6.