Although Lincoln and Harrisburg weren’t the top two seeds in District 2AA boys basketball, both the Patriots and Tigers have been riding win streaks that got them to the district final. Harrisburg, the No. 4 seed in the district, opened the season 0-6 and at one point were 3-10 on the season. Lincoln, seeded third, was 4-9 midway through the season, and also looking for a spark heading into tournament play.
Entering the district title game against Lincoln Friday night, the Tigers had won seven of its last eight, including a surprise opening round win at Brandon Valley. Lincoln defeated pre-season No. 1 Washington in its opening round game, and came into the game against Harrisburg the winners of six of its last seven. Friday night at the Lincoln gym, one of those hefty streaks would take a blow.
Dillon Barrow had 15 points and Diang Gatluak added a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds as Lincoln (11-10) used a 12-1 run over the final four minutes to steal a win away from Harrisburg, 45-41.
The Tigers (10-12) grabbed its biggest lead of the game at seven when Will Johnson scored to make it 40-33 with 4:27 to play. Johnson led Harrisburg with 15 points, the only double-digit scorer for the Tigers. He stripped the ball from Lincoln’s Alex Glanzer at the top of the Lincoln key and drove the length of the floor for the basket. Harrisburg had all the momentum and a seven point lead, and it felt like Lincoln’s chance to defend its state title would have to be put on hold.
But on the next possession, Gatluak scored and was fouled. The junior knocked down the free throw for the traditional 3-point play. He scored again 90 seconds later, and the home court momentum was beginning to shift. With 1:26 to play, Simon Higgason hit a deep 3-pointer, tying the game at 41-41.
It was only Higgason’s third attempted field goal of the game. Normally a player with several attempts per night, Higgason only fired off three, nailing his last one in the final minute. He didn’t attempt a shot in Lincoln’s opening round victory over Washington. The last time the two faced, he had five 3-pointers.
“I was trying to move the ball more and see what was working,” Higgason said. “We were really trying to get it into the post because we thought we had a mis-match there. I told my coach, ‘hey coach put me in. I want to hit this one.’”
The 45 points scored is Lincoln’s lowest scoring output of the season. However, Lincoln’s defense clearly stepped it up as the the 41 scored against them is also a season low. Harrisburg scored just one point in the final four minutes and shot 32-percent from the field for the game.
“I think it’s probably a little bit of both,” Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth said when asked if the limited scoring by Harrisburg down the stretch was Lincoln’s defense, or simply Harrisburg’s inability to score. “Look at the score. Nobody was really lighting it up out there. We did clamp down a little bit, and really not giving them second chances. That was huge for us.”
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Against Washington in its opening round district game, the Patriots were lights out from the 3-point line, going 12-for-22 from beyond the arc. Friday against Harrisburg, Lincoln struggled from that distance and went 4-for-25.
“I was surprised a little bit at the score,” Halseth said. “We’re a little bit better 3-point shooting team, but you know what, it’s the district championship and it can get a little tight. But we took good shots, and that’s important. They just didn’t go down.”
Justin Clayton 3 3-5 9, Ace Zorr 3 1-2 7, Brady VanHolland 2 0-0 5, Chase Altenburg 1 0-1 2, Will Johnson 5 3-3 15, Michael Curry 0 0-0 0, Alec Hammond 0 0-0 0, Brady Samuelson 0 0-0 0, Nick Hoyt 1 0-0 3. Totals: 15 7-11 41.
Diang Gatluak 5 3-4 13, Carson Coulter 2 1-2 4, Dillon Barrow 7 0-0 15, Alex Glanzer 3 0-0 8, Simon Higgason 1 1-2 4, Kaleb Dobbs 0 0-0 0, Christope Bwana 0 0-0 0, Andrew Tverberg 0 0-0 0, Victor Gamies 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 5-10 45.
Harrisburg 11 19 30 41
Lincoln 7 20 28 45
3-point goals – H 4 (Johnson 2), SFL 4 (Glanzer 2). Rebounds – H 32 (Clayton 6, Zorr 6), SFL 40 (Gatluak 15). Assists – H 6 (Johnson 2), SFL 13 (Barrow 4). Steals – H 3 (Johnson 3), SFL 7 (Coulter 3, Barrow 3). Blocked Shots – H 3 (Zorr 3), SFL 2 (Gatluak 1, Coulter 1, Barrow 1). Turnovers – H 10, SFL 7. Total fouls – H 14, SFL 14. Fouled Out – Altenburg (H).