No clear cut favorite as Zebras near league play

Lincoln battles at ‘Tako’ Tournament
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Boys Basketball Preseason Standings

Team         Record                SOS

Lincoln      (0-0, 10-4)           2.3

Placer         (0-0, 9-6)             3.9

Oakmont   (0-0, 7-6)             -1.5

Ponderosa (0-0, 6-5)             10.1

Nev. Union (0-0, 6-9)                    8.3

Rio Linda (0-0, 1-9)             6.9

SOS: Strength of Schedule

At 10-4, the Lincoln High boys basketball team still sits on top of the Foothill Valley League Standings, but a 1-2 finish at Del Oro’s Takayama “Tako” Memorial Tournament last week showed there is still room for improvement.

The Fighting Zebras opened with a 66-51win against a solid Franklin team, but Foothill (Palo Cedro) and Granite Bay (7 senors and only one player under 6 feet) were about to use strength around the rim and 50-60-percent shooting from outside to subdue the boys in blue.

“Our biggest concern is around the rim getting tough points,” head coach Robert Ash said. “When we’re open I kind of expect (the shots) to go in. But if somebody takes that away from us and runs at us …, and I think that’s kind of what Granite Bay did.”

Ash said teams that have taller players capable of either controlling the boards or hitting from the outside makes it tough for the Zebras to match up.

For instance, Foothill’s 6-foot-4-inch Josiah Hutt shot nearly 60 percent from the 3-point line and finished with 16 points. The Cougars Luke Lindsay also scored 16, making only one shot from beyond the arc.

Ash said there are some things his club can do to better disguise their defenses, but said his players are going to have to improve their shooting inside the paint.

Ash said he sees the FVL as a wide-open conference. He said there are a number of good teams, but none he would consider as great.

“We’re just good, we’re not great,” said Ash, and then labeled the rest of the league the same. “I’m looking at it and, wow, we could finish fifth or we could finish first, which is kind of scary.”

The Zebras will stay busy until league starts Jan. 8, with four more preseason games scheduled before then. Check out the Lincoln club Dec. 28, Jan. 2-3, when they play Calaveras, Del Oro and Bret Harte at home.