After Center victory, Lincoln awaits playoff invitation

Zebras also defeat Bear River
By: Alex Stewart for The News Messenger
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*Boys Basketball Standings

Colfax (8-2, 19-8) loss to Placer 82-66

Placer (8-2, 20-7) win over Colfax 82-66

Lincoln (6-4, 20-7) win over Center 66-52

Foothill (6-4, 10-17) win over Bear River 67-44

*Top three teams receive playoff automatic bids.



After a three-game losing streak, the Lincoln High boys basketball team battled back to defeat both Center and Bear River to leave them tied for third place in the Pioneer Valley League.

Foothill won five of their last six games to match the Fighting Zebras record. In Max Preps Sac-Joaquin Section Rankings, Lincoln is No. 41 and Foothill 90. However, both are ranked 11th; the Zebras in Division II and the Mustangs in Division IV.

The seeding is scheduled to be out late afternoon Thursday. Teams will be anxiously awaiting their fates, much like college teams do when the NCAA Tournament announces which schools are in and which are out.

Lincoln 66, Center 52

The Zebras trailed 16-14 at the end of the first period Wednesday, but knotted the game 36-36 by halftime. In the third period, Lincoln went on a 14-5 run and never looked back.

Lincoln 67, Bear River 44

In a must-win game Friday night against the Bear River Bruins, the Zebras were up to the challenge.

A victory would almost guarantee a spot in the playoffs, a loss would make things difficult.

After going down 1-0 on the opening possession, Lincoln reclaimed the lead and never looked back en route to a 67-43 victory. But the win was not easy, as Bear River made the Zebras work the entire game.

After trailing by double digits in the first quarter, the Bruins used physical, aggressive play and dominated the glass to cut the Zebras’ lead to five at the half.

“We just weren’t hitting the glass in the first half,” Lincoln head coach Robert Ash said. “We threw a punch and they didn’t quit. They kept playing and we had to put a body on a body and go get the ball.”

Doing that, the Zebras came out of the half and hit three consecutive 3-point shots and scored 15 unanswered points. In addition, Lincoln’s defense held the Bruins to only eight points in the third quarter.

With the momentum going into the fourth quarter, the Zebras closed out the game in with a 15-5 run.

Leading the charge was sophomore guard Angelo Nicandro, who accounted for 12 of Lincoln’s 67 points. But Nicandro’s impact wasn’t just his ability to score.

“That was the best game he’s ever played in a Lincoln uniform,” said Coach Ash. “He had very few turnovers, great assists, found shooters when they needed to be found. His pace of play was fast when it needed to be fast, slow when it needed to be slow; he controlled the pace of that game. He did a great job.”