Lincoln defeats Del Oro in double overtime marathon

Zebras host Bear River Thursday
By: Joshua Gutierrez/News Messenger Correspondent
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With their eight-game winning streak in jeopardy, the Lincoln varsity boys basketball team twice faced defeat at the hands of Del Oro last week but refused to give in.

However, the high-ranked Golden Eagles could only watch as the Fighting Zebras overcame late mistakes to turn certain defeat into a 74-69 double overtime victory.

With 30 seconds left in regulation, the Golden Eagles assumed a 51-49 lead on a Connor Drake field goal. Lincoln followed Del Oro’s score with a quick shot attempt, which could have tied the game.

A flurry of fouls followed as Lincoln desperately tried to retrieve the ball but it went over to Del Oro. But an errant-inbound pass escaped the hands of the Eagles and ended up in the Zebras possession.

The turnover led to a quick 3-point attempt that missed its mark but the Zebras’ Alexis Gonzales rebounded the ball and lobbed up a prayer. As the ball teetered on the rim, a Del Oro player interfered with the basket with only one second remaining in regulation play. The Golden Eagles committed a goaltending violation tying the game as a result.

In the first overtime, Lincoln found itself down 59-56.

Needing a shot beyond the arc to tie, Marcus Salgado passed to Matt Shirley who was on top of the key. With a defender in his face, Shirley drained his second-straight 3-pointer and sent the game into a second overtime.

“I just had to drill it,” said Shirley after the game. “That’s what they use me for. They say shoot it and I just got to make it.”

Shirley delivered again in the second overtime on a similar 3-pointer to give the Zebras a four-point cushion and the space needed to finally pull away.

The Golden Eagles were ultimately done in for their inability to hit shots from beyond the perimeter. Del Oro snapped a 0-for-17 slump as Colin Mitchell drained a trey in the 39th minute of play.

“If we knock some shots down, it’s a different game,” said Del Oro head coach Geoff Broyles, in reference to his team’s 2-20 performance from the perimeter.

Four Zebras managed to eclipse double-digit point totals. Salgado led the team with 20 points and narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine assists.

Adam Felt scored in all six periods, finishing with 19 points. Gonzales and Shirley rounded out the foursome with 11 and 10 points respectively.

After a 3-4 start, Lincoln has caught fire with nine-straight victories. Their 12-4 record at the time tied them for third place in the tough Pioneer Valley League preseason standings.

Lincoln head coach Robert Ash spoke after Wednesday’s victory and didn’t shy away from the importance of defeating Del Oro with league play coming up.

“This was a really, really good basketball team we beat,” said Ash. “They’re as good as any team in our league. Any time you knock a team like that off, it feels good.”

Lincoln broke into the Sacramento Bee’s top-20 teams standings with a 13-4 record after defeating Vista del Lago 66-43 last week.

Thursday, the Zebras will kick off PVL play at home against Bear River.

Lincoln 66, Vista del Lago 43

FOLSOM _ Lincoln defeated Vista del Lago 66-43 in the Fighting Zebras’ final preseason game.

 Lincoln created an ever-expanding margin against the Eagles (7-8) from the first quarter to the final buzzer. Lincoln contained Eagles’ leading scorer Drew McPherson while the Zebras’ Adam Felt led his club with a game-high 20 points.

“(Lincoln) came out with a game plan to shut down Drew and they really took us out of our game. We had no answer,” said Vista head coach Matt von Tillow. “We couldn’t really get any other guys going. They disrupted our timing on offense and that was really the story.”

Lincoln began the second half with a 13-3 run over the first four minutes en route to a 21-point third quarter. They continued the damage in the fourth quarter with a barrage of three-pointers, including three straight from Felt, Austin Mallory and Matt Shirley to amass Lincoln’s biggest lead to that point.

Reporting by Nick Pecoraro/Gold Country News Service