Defense could mean a championship

Five Pioneer Valley league teams over .500 in preseason
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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The Lincoln High School boys basketball team appeared headed into Pioneer Valley League play with a big win over Whitney’s Wildcats Monday – until the fourth quarter; the ‘Cats came back from four down to defeat the Fighting Zebras, 54-48. Lincoln coach Robert Ash shouldered the blame for his team’s letdown. He said he would have to work on finding ways for his club to get easier baskets. “This is a big game for our guys, obviously. On our schedule this is the one we circled,” said Ash, considering the game was played before a packed house. “We have to play in the 60s, not the 50s, it’s killing us.” Lincoln led in each quarter and didn’t fall behind until the 6-minute mark of the final period. Whitney then found their range, while the blue-and-gold lost theirs. Lincoln’s Marcus Salgado and Travis Miskell led the Zebras with 15 points apiece, but couldn’t find the range in the last quarter. Salgado, a sophomore, said nerves may have caused his club to abandon its game plan. “We stopped taking easy shots like we were supposed to,” said Lincoln point guard Marcus Salgado, who finished with 15 points. “It was in our heads. I think we were just nervous.” However, Salgado said the club still feels confident as Pioneer Valley League play draws near. A couple more wins and Lincoln would be in the mix at the top of the PVL preseason standings. However, the last two games were against tough opponents that also included a 55-44 loss at Del Oro, Jan. 3. The Zebras are averaging slightly less than 60 points a game. Of their preseason wins only one came scoring less than 59 points. The club wrapped up preseason play with a loss to Capital Christian, 55-47, Tuesday. Ethan Everett scored 14 in the contest, Salgado 10. However, the Zebras out-rebounded the Cougars by a ratio of nearly 2:1. Lincoln opens PVL play at Bear River, 7:30 p.m., Friday. Pioneer Valley League Boys Basketball Preseason Standings 2011-‘12 Team W L Off Def Dif Foothill 13 3 57.6 48.4 9.1 Center 12 3 65.1 55.6 9.5 Placer 13 4 61.4 54.9 6.5 Lincoln 9 8 58.8 54.0 4.8 Colfax 9 8 53.7 54.7 -1.0 Bear River 7 8 58.4 53.8 4.6 Legend: W-wins, L-loss, Off_offense average, Def-defense average, Dif-difference