This is what John Lewellen missed: The atmosphere of the county tournament. The relationships with his fellow coaches.
Winning doesn’t hurt, either.
Another tournament title went to Lincoln, the second in as many weeks for the Golden Eagles.
County bragging rights went to them, too.
Jordan Bryant turned in a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds Saturday as Lincoln pulled away for a 51-38 victory over Hagerstown, denying the Tigers a third consecutive Wayne County Tournament crown in girls basketball.
This was the Golden Eagles’ first county championship since 2008, and 14th overall.
Lewellen is in his first season back with Lincoln, but previously coached at the school for 23 seasons before stepping down in 2010.
“I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t,” Lewellen said after the game. “This is what I missed. I yelled a couple of times at Chris (Oliger, Hagerstown’s coach) and asked if he knew what play I was going to run.
“We’ve got a good relationship and I love this tourney.”
Lincoln put it away in the fourth quarter by turning a tie ballgame into a double-digit lead. The Golden Eagles held Hagerstown scoreless until 2:03 left in the final period .
“We’ve been working on that,” Lewellen said. “The last week or so, we’ve been working on putting the ball in the deep freeze, just to get ready for the second part of our season.”
The Golden Eagles were coming off two victories to win the Monroe Central holiday tournament on Dec. 29.
Lincoln has now won four straight, including Thursday’s 36-28 win over Northeastern.
“I think winning a championship for them last week was huge in this game,” said Oliger, whose Tigers were playing in their seventh straight county championship game. “This group of girls (Hagerstown) have never played for a championship. This is their first opportunity to do so. There is a lot of different pressures on a championship game then there is on a regular-season game.”
Lincoln’s Kristen Meal tied the game 33-33 late in the third quarter, the start of a 12-0 run for the Golden Eagles.
Sophomore Libby Buhl provided two critical baskets during that stretch, and Tayler Pennington knocked down a 3-pointer.
By the time the Tigers got back on the board with a free throw from Hayley Rogers, the Golden Eagles’ lead stood at 43-34 with about 2 minutes to play.
“That’s something that we can learn from and build on for down the road,” Oliger said.
Meal finished with 11 points and six rebounds for Lincoln, while Pennington and Karlie Neff added seven points each.
Bryant was effective and efficient inside throughout the game. The 5-foot-11 junior shot 7-of-9 from the field.
She also connected on a pair of free throws with 1:11 remaining after the Tigers had pulled within six.
“Jordan is a good inside post player,” Lewellen said. “When she’s really going, she’s probably one of the better ones in this area.”
Hayley Rogers and Courtney Rogers each scored 11 points to lead Hagerstown (7-6), while Madison Houck added five points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Golden Eagles and Tigers will meet again — also at Hagerstown — for TEC play on Thursday.
“Again, hat’s off to John and the Lady Eagles — great game plan, great job of getting it done,” Oliger said. “We just went stone cold in the fourth quarter.
” … I’m extremely proud of the girls. We play hard. We work hard. We’re going to be better because of this.”