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Lincoln unable to overcome Rocklin power

Tournament gives team insight
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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Trophies are nice, but many basketball teams enter preseason tournaments for real game experience and to measure their strengths and weaknesses against the competition before league play begins. The Annual Lincoln High School Invitational girls basketball tournament has been serving that purpose for 22 years. This year both Rocklin and Lincoln went on that discovery tour and ended up facing each other in the consolation game, Dec. 30. The Thunder came away with the victory, 59-39, and averaged almost 62 points a game in their three contests. The Fighting Zebras averaged around 35 points a game, and made just 15 of their 45 shots from the floor (unofficial) against Rocklin. “We missed a lot of shots, but we’re not a good shooting team,” Lincoln head coach Dan Hicks said of the Zebras. “We’re not a good finishing team.” Hicks summed up the team’s shooting woes in two parts – poor technique, and being out of position when taking their shots. Hicks, his first year at the Zebras’ helm, said he noticed the problem during summer league. He said he offered suggestions to his players, but now feels he should have been more aggressive in correcting some of their bad habits. Hicks now has some of his players shooting free throws with one hand behind their backs to help correct what they might be doing wrong. Normally averaging around 30 percent from the line, the Zebras shot close to 50 percent from the charity stripe against Rocklin. Rejoining the team was forward and post player Cassandra Jaimes. Jaimes had a fractured bone in her ankle and missed two weeks of play before her return. She is now working hard to re-establish her presence in the frontcourt. “I’m used to playing so I can get used to everything pretty quick,” said Jaimes, after the club defeated Elk Grove in their second tournament game. “It’s good to help out the team. It’s good to work hard; I like the feeling.” At 5-10, Jaimes has been able to spell post player Sarah Dargan. Dargan had been playing nearly 32 minutes a game prior to Jaimes return. The Zebras’ backcourt is solid with senior Liz Magana at point guard. She and her sophomore counterparts Kaylee Avilla and Riley Sims are very good ball handlers. They had little problem breaking the Thunder press, but had trouble finishing for the score. Magana is a good shooter, but scored just six against Rocklin. “Liz (Magana) is probably the one who has the best feel for where the basket is,” said Hicks. “The other ones don’t have a good feel for where they are on the court in relation to the basket and that puts them out of position.” One player who has been picking up the scoring is junior Megan Flores. Flores had 17 against the Thunder, but did not take a shot in the third period. Hicks said he’s been trying to work Flores into the lineup by improving her defensive skills. Flores was 5-7 from the floor, with one 3-pointer and 1-2 from the free-throw line. “(Flores) is a good shooter. She has a feel for jump shots,” Hicks said. “She can make jump shots. And now she’s playing better defense and that’s why she gets to play more.” In other tournament games, Lincoln defeated Elk Grove 41-30, and fell in their opener with San Juan. The club is now 4-8 on the season with their last preseason home game tonight, 7 p.m., against River Valley (9-4). Pioneer Valley League play begins Jan. 12, with Lincoln entertaining Bear River. _ E-mail News Messenger Sports at jiml@goldcountrymedia.com 22nd Annual Invitational Tournament Lincoln High School Varsity Girls Basketball CONSOLATION GAME Rocklin 59, Lincoln 39 Thunder 21 18 9 11 – 59 Zebras 12 11 5 11 – 39