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Pride is parting gift for seniors

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Christian Perkins had thoughts of dogging it. The senior’s efforts were not doing Lincoln High School’s boys basketball team much good, so he began to wonder whether he should try at all. His last season with the Zebras turned into a lost cause. Ben Palafox’s team finished 0-10 in the Pioneer Valley League and 6-20 overall. An 11-game losing streak was Perkins’ parting gift. The six juniors and two sophomores will get a second chance in the 2011-12 season. For Perkins and fellow senior Kevin Sigrist, there are no mulligans. Their legacies will be tainted by losing. They can walk away with their heads held high, however, because they did not quit as a few of their teammates did. When the going got tough, they stepped in front of it and took the charge. Perkins went from being the backup quarterback in 2009, when the football team went 10-0 in the regular season, to being a starting guard for the basketball team that was winless in the PVL. His luck took a turn for the worse, and Perkins nearly allowed his attitude to go down the drain as well. “I thought about not trying hard sometimes, but I put that out of my head,” he said. “I’m a competitor.” Perkins is also a leader. How else did he become the student body president? He took it upon himself during a sour season to set an example for sophomores Steve Venturino and James Pallas. “The sophomores didn’t know certain things, so I would explain things to them and calm them down,” he said. “(Pallas) was one of my favorite players. I could always count on him to play hard.” Sigrist also refused to surrender even though his senior season amounted to be one loss after another. Perkins and Sigrist made a subliminal vow to stick it out together - for better or worse. “We didn’t really talk about it,” Sigrist said. “We just tried not to put our heads down. We wanted to win.” In a forgettable season, Sigrist and Perkins will remember Lincoln’s 67-52 loss to Center on Feb. 9. The Zebras led 26-25 at halftime against a team that whipped them by 51 points on Jan. 20. That January game at Center was embarrassing. As the Cougars built a 34-point lead in the second quarter, the boisterous students sitting across from the Zebras’ bench chanted “Start the bus!” In the rematch at Lincoln, Perkins and Sigrist pushed their teammates to leave everything on the court. Junior guard Travis Miskell responded by scoring a team-high 14 points. Pallas added eight. “We wanted to play hard no matter what the score was,” Perkins said. “We could tell (the (Cougars) were scared at halftime.” Lincoln basketball fans have nothing to fear. The future is the bright for the boys program, given the junior varsity team’s success and the freshmen’s 25-0 finish. Better days are just around the corner. “After what we went through,” Sigrist said, “it can only go up from here.”