Lincoln wins power-shortened Wheatland Tournament
The Lincoln High boys basketball team won its fifth Wheatland Tournament under head coach Robert Ash Saturday. The Fighting Zebras played only two tournament games because of a power outage in Wheatland last Thursday.
Lincoln defeated the hometown Pirates 62-45 Saturday, following a runaway win over Willows the night before. It was the second straight Wheatland Tournament victory for the Zebras, having defeated Red Bluff 67-62 in the 2017 championship game.
Wheatland (1-1) reached the championship game last week by defeating Hamilton in a semifinal contest Friday.
In spite of the back-to-back victories, Ash was still concerned about the play of his young team.
“We have four seniors and two of them didn’t play basketball last year; they were just students. So when you bring back only two seniors, we have growing pains on the little things,” Ash said. “I think we’re talented, but we don’t do little things.”
Although the Zebras defeated Willows 73-19 in their semifinal match-up, Ash knows his team will have to master those “little things” if they are to compete in Division II.
“We need to do those little things because they are going to be big things. So that’s what we’re kind of consistently working on,” said Ash. “It’s not really a talent thing. I think we have good players, but I think we’re kind of learning how to win at a varsity level.”
The Zebras are not particularly tall, which can be a factor in Division II competition. Lincoln’s tallest player is 6-foot-4-inch senior Gabino Rodriguez, who did not play last season.
In contrast, Division II Rocklin has three players 6-6 or taller and Whitney has four players ranging from 6-3 to 6-5. To offset that potential size disadvantage, Ash has been using practice to develop countermeasures.
“That’s what we work on in practice. Like we have a problem substituting and getting matched up; our rebounding assignments are screwed up and we don’t run our lanes as hard as I like to run our lanes,” said Ash. “So, when you bring back only two seniors, we have growing pains on the little things. We have good kids, but it’s learning how to win a varsity basketball game.”
Junior Ty Boatman was voted the tournament MVP. Boatman drained five 3-pointers against Willows, four in the final period.
Austin Waymire, one of Ash’s returning seniors, was named to the all-tournament team.