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Zebras misfire in league opener

By: Kayla Nix, Correspondent
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By Kayla Nix News Messenger Correspondent Ben Palafox was pleased Tuesday night with the effort put forth by Lincoln High School’s boys basketball team in its Pioneer Valley League opener. The Zebras’ shooting was another story. Lincoln started cold and never thawed out, shooting 24 percent in a 62-45 home loss to Bear River. “When you shoot 24 percent,” Palafox said, “it’s going to be tough to play against a zone team particularly. We had great looks (from) 15 feet, 12 feet, the 3-point line. The ball just didn’t go in.” The Zebras (6-11) went more than three minutes without a basket as the game got under way. Junior Eric Corter finally ended Lincoln’s drought by sinking a shot with 4:50 left in the first period. By then, however, the Bruins (7-10) had a 10-2 lead. The margin was 24-13 by the end of the quarter. Corter kept the Zebras within striking distance by hitting a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left. Lincoln refused to fold despite its cold shooting. The Zebras relied on their defense to mount a rally in the second quarter. Lincoln outscored Bear River 12-7 to trim the halftime margin to 31-25. “I think our effort was there for us,” Palafox said. “We did a lot of good things defensively. We battled with them on the boards.” A stingy defense could not compensate for Lincoln’s errant shooting in the third quarter, however. The Zebras managed just six points in the period as the Bruins regained control of the game. Bear River took advantage of four straight Lincoln turnovers to end the quarter with a 9-0 run and take a 46-31 lead. “It obviously limits your opportunity for you to shoot the basketball,” Palafox said of the turnovers. “It’s like I tell them, ‘You’re fighting two people. You're fighting them and then you’re fighting yourself when you make the turnover.’” The Zebras were already having enough problems with their shooting opportunities. The turnovers only made matters worse. Corter led the Zebras with 16 points. Bear River was paced by Jonny Cassar with 22 and Zach Welz with 10. The Zebras will have their hands full tonight when they pay a visit to Center, which rolled past Placer 83-57 in its PVL opener Tuesday. “We’re going to play a little different style against Center,” Palafox said. We have to make some adjustments. They’re one of the best, most talented teams in the (Sac-Joaquin) section."