The Lincoln boys basketball team charged out of the gates Tuesday and never looked back, holding off never-say-die O’Gorman 76-66 at the Patriots gym. That the Patriots did it all without ace big man Addison Park made the victory even more impressive.
“When this group of guys gets a little adversity, they seem to come together a little bit better,” said Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth, alluding to Park’s absence. The 6-foot-8 senior was suspended one game for his fourth quarter foul on Sam McCloud in Friday’s loss against Rapid City Stevens at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
“I think they played very good team basketball tonight,” Halseth added. “We found openings inside when they were there, penetrated when we had opportunities, took the outside shots, and we moved the ball around.”
Add it all up and there’s a winning formula, but it doesn’t hurt that the Patriots have another accomplished post presence in Malik Dunn. Early on and throughout, Lincoln found ways to feed the 6-6 senior inside. Dunn led all scorers with 26 points, adding 10 rebounds, and was an efficient 8-for-11 from the foul line.
“We’re a team first, and individual players stepped up,” Dunn said, adding that the Patriots stayed with their normal game plan. “Inside is where we always go. We stayed with it, boxed them out, and it opened things up for the shooters.”
Lincoln’s bench also played its part in the effort, Nolan Burchill and Lee Ransom especially rising to the occasion at both ends of the court. Ransom pitched in eight points and eight boards, while Burchill scored all of his nine points in the second quarter. On the final play of the first half, Burchill turned a steal into an assist as Kaleb Johnson connected on a layup to put Lincoln up 39-26.
Lincoln’s Isaiah Roach goes up for a shot while O’Gorman’s Ben Lauer defends during their game at Lincoln High School on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.
The fourth-ranked Knights, meanwhile, were slow to find their groove on offense and had trouble defending the Patriots all night.
“I was just a little disappointed on the way we defended tonight. We just let them go wherever they wanted to go,” said O’Gorman coach Derek Robey.
Early on, Lincoln wanted to go inside. In the second half, the Patriots diversified their attack. Kaleb Johnson scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, while Tate Lindsay added nine points and seven assists.
“As bad as we were playing defensively, we were only down 13,” Robey said of the halftime deficit — Lincoln led 39-26. One possession at a time became the focus.
The Knights came out of the break with renewed confidence, and 6-6 forward Davis Cowan helped keep them in the game. Cowan scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, knocking down timely shots that twice pulled the Knights out of double-digit deficits.
O’Gorman’s Jacob Fleck added a pair of late 3-pointers, but with the time running out and forced to foul, the Knights’ charge came a bit too late.
Antonio Casiello and Fleck each finished with 11 points, while Braxton Elliot added 10. Cowan also hauled in eight rebounds, but the Patriots held a decided advantage on the boards. Lincoln outrebounded the Knights 45-30 and wrestled down 14 offensive boards to O’Gorman’s six.
Those second-chance opportunities often paid off in the way of points. In a game where the overall shooting numbers balanced out by game’s end, Lincoln’s dominance inside was the difference.
“These guys stepped up without (Park), and even when we get him back I think the intensity and unity these guys showed tonight is just going to continue to go,” Halseth said.
Lincoln (13-4) visits Brookings on Thursday. O’Gorman (14-5), which had a seven-game win streak snapped, will close out its regular season next Tuesday at home against No. 1 Washington.
Davis Cowan 8-21 0-1 18, Jack Peery 1-3 1-1 3, Ben Lauer 2-2 2-4 6, Braxton Elliot 4-11 2-4 10, Antonio Casiello 4-9 1-2 11, Luke Fritsch 1-1 0-1 2, Jacob Fleck 4-7 1-1 11, Ethan French 0-0 0-0 0, Jimmy Burma 0-0 2-2 2, JP Costello 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 25-55 10-18 66.
Nickel Meyers 2-10 0-1 4, Malik Dunn 9-15 8-11 26, Isaiah Roach 1-2 2-4 5, Tate Lindsay 2-7 4-6 9, Kaleb Johnson 5-8 3-4 14, Dallas Soyland 0-0 0-0 0, Lee Ransom 4-6 0-0 8, Nolan Burchill 3-7 1-1 9, Tommy Jensen 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 26-56 19-29 76.
O’Gorman 11 15 17 23 – 66
Lincoln 19 20 16 21 – 76
3-pointers – SFO 6-14 (Fleck 2-3, Cowan 2-3, Casiello 2-4), SFL 5-13 (Burchill 2-4, Roach 1-1, Lindsay 1-3, Johnson 1-4). Total fouls – SFO 20, SFL 15. Fouled out – Cowan. Rebounds – SFO 30 (Cowan 8), SFL 45 (Dunn 10, Ransom 8, Meyers 7, Lindsay 7). Assists – SFO 8, SFL 15 (Lindsay 7). Steals – SFO 7, SFL 7. Blocked shots – SFO 2, SFL 5 (Ransom 2). Turnovers – SFO 7, SFL 13.