Lincoln JV girls settle for fourth in 26th Invite

Zebras’ tournament recap
By: Jim Linsdau of The News Messenger
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A chill must have run through the Lincoln High girls basketball junior varsity bench in the second half against Rio Linda last week, as the girls in blue scored only seven points in the last two quarters.

Going up against the Knights for third place in the 26th annual Lincoln Invitational Tournament last week, the Fighting Zebras appeared to be in the thick of things during the first two periods. Rio Linda held a slim one-point edge 27-26 going into the locker room at intermission, but that was as close as Lincoln would get. The Knights went on to win 51-34.

Matching the visitors shot for shot and rebound for rebound, it appeared it would be anybody’s game. Lincoln’s Natalie Gonzales scored 10 points and Iliana Gallagher six to help keep the game close.

But in the third frame, Hannah Wilson’s two points signaled the beginning of the end, as that would be all the Zebras would get.

Jessica Hooks and Lexie Smith added a basket each in the fourth period, and Gonzales a free throw, as Lincoln dropped to 5-8 on the preseason.

Gridley 34, Lincoln 28

Round 2 was a low-scoring affair, with both teams struggling to reach double digits during any one quarter. The Bulldogs were finally able to do that in the third (10) and fourth (12) frames and claimed victory.

After trailing 12-8 at halftime, the Zebras tightened things in the third quarter. Behind a dozen-point rally, Lincoln came within two of Gridley, 22-20.

However, the ‘Dogs outscored their hosts 12-8 in period four for the victory.

Smith led the Zebras with eight points and Bella Bottini finished with five. Wilson and Gallagher scored four points each.

Lincoln 53, Galt 16

Lincoln had an easy time of it against Galt to open the tournament.

The Zebras broke out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play and never let the Warriors back into the game. With a 36-8 lead at halftime, it was a matter of trying to keep up intensity as play became a little ragged.

“To start out, yes; to finish, no,” said Lincoln JV head coach Donna Tofft, as to her satisfaction with her team’s focus as the game wore on. “But it is kind of hard. I told them I still wanted them in stance; we can steal the ball, but we’re supposed to walk it up.”

And that showed throughout the contest. In the second half, Lincoln scored 17 total points, but still outscored Galt in each frame. The advantage was Tofft was able to get her players to understand the concept of getting behind and passing below against a zone defense.

 “We’re more athletic than we were last year,” said Tofft. “I like when we play with intensity. I like our 22-plus in our zone. We’re starting to play a lot better together.”

Tofft said her club did an excellent job against Golden Sierra earlier in the season.

Unofficially, Gonzales led the Zebras with 16 points and Katie Sterling tallied 11; Smith and Hooks each had six. The girls in blue also dominated the boards.