Lincoln moves to head of PVL to maintain win streak
With a 38-35 victory over visiting Center, the Lincoln High varsity boys basketball team extended their winning streak to 12 games and posted a 2-0 record in Pioneer Valley League competition.
Last week’s win did not come easy, as Lincoln surrendered a big lead late in the final period. But just as they have during the entirety of their winning streak, the Zebras found a way to win.
Lincoln’s Marcus Salgado started the night off strong shooting 3-for-4 from the floor and breaking an early tie with a shot from beyond the arc.
With momentum on their side, John Reyes found Matt Shirley for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Zebras a 13-6 lead at the end of the first period.
Strong defense by both clubs capped the first half. Each team was limited to less than 45-percent shooting and each turned the ball over five times heading into the locker room.
The Zebras’ offense began to churn as Salgado collected three assists, including a crowd-captivating alley-oop pass to Adam Felt.
Lincoln seemed primed to pull away as Center shot 2-13 from the floor and fell behind by 14 at the start of the final period.
But with a height advantage seemingly absent for three periods, the Cougars began to push the ball inside the paint. That allowed their big men to take control.
Isaiah Jones 6-foot-9 and Austin Hampton 6-7 combined for 11 points as the Zebras saw their once double-digit lead evaporate.
Hampton’s game-tying field goal with less than 90 seconds to play capped a 17-3 run by the Cougars. In a seven-minute span, the Cougars scored nearly as much as they had in the previous three periods (18).
“They came down and extended their defense and we didn’t have an answer for it,” said Lincoln head coach Robert Ash after the game. “But our guys found a way to win.”
With two missed opportunities to take the lead, the Zebras’ coaching staff went to their own big man, Logan Stayner.
Alexis Gonzales found Stayner on the low post, as each team’s big men jockeyed for position. Stayner managed to cut underneath Jones’ arms for the go-ahead field goal.
With time ticking away, Zebras’ Sterling Jackson all but sealed the victory, as the junior guard retrieved an errant Center pass.
With their winning streak at 12, the Zebras have begun the conversation of capturing the PVL title over preseason favorites Bear River and Placer.
Lincoln’s Salgado, confident in his team’s ability, put an emphasis on the habits formed during practice as the determining factor for their success.
“We’re playing really well right now,” said Salgado, who led the Zebras with 10 points and five assists. “Our practices are hard. It’s all about what we do on defense.”
LINCOLN 60, FOOTHILL 52
The Zebras proved they could win on the road as well, by downing the Mustangs on their home court last Thursday.
It was Foothill’s (2-1) first league loss and improved Lincoln to 3-0, best in the PVL.
LINCOLN 38, CENTER 35
Cougars 6 9 5 15 – 35
Zebras 13 8 11 6 – 38
Center – 15-48, 4-11, 35, 3Pt 1-8. Lincoln – 16-38, 4-8, 38, 3Pt 2-12.
Turnovers – C enter 13, Lincoln 15.
Salgado 4-11, 1-2, 10, 3Pt 1-5, Felt 4-9, 0-0, 8, 3Pt 0-3, Gonzales-2-6, 1-2, 5. 3Pt 0-1.
Assists – Salgado 5, Felt 2, Conzales 1, Reyes 1.
Jan. 25 – Colfax, 7 pm - HOMECOMING
Feb. 6 – Foothill, 7 pm