The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Shinnston has been buzzing for several weeks about the Lincoln girls and boys basketball teams. Lady Cougar Head Coach Rob Hawkins and boys Head Coach Jordan Toth have had their respective teams playing their best basketball of the season when it counts the most.
The Lady Cougars got hot entering postseason play and rode that momentum to the state capital, where they received the No.5 seed in last week’s tournament. They faced Winfield in a game where the ball or whistle didn’t go or blow their way. In many cases, when two teams are close in talent and battle on the hardwood, a key play or a change in flow can affect the outcome of the outing; that is what occurred last Thursday. Floor general Gracey Lamm found herself in foul trouble and had to set out the majority of the first half. Foul difficulties continued in the third quarter as Hope Bray and Madison Jefferies fought fouls while losing valuable playing time. It forced Hawkins to play a different type of slow down basketball that doesn’t showcase his team’s true talents. Nonetheless, Lincoln battled to within one point of the Generals early in the fourth quarter.
Winfield hit big shots down the stretch to preserve the win and end the Lady Cougars season. Lincoln was led by Hope Bray (11 points and seven rebounds), Byrnne Williams (eight points and eight rebounds) and Gracey Lamm (four assists).
Even though the Lady Cougars fell just short of the ultimate goal, they still accomplished a great deal finishing the campaign with a 20-6 record.
The boys basketball program has waited ten long years to find its way back to the state tournament. Toth’s team accomplished the feat with little doubt, earning three straight postseason wins to punch their ticket to Charleston. The Cougars defeated Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd on the road to claim the sectional crown, which earned them the right to stay in Shinnston for regional play.
Lincoln edged Lewis County 56-53, earning both the regional title and a berth in the state tournament.
The Cougars looked poised to stroll into play in the state capital after building a 12 point lead in the third quarter against the Minutemen. That lead eventually gave way to a fourth quarter deficit and the hosts would have to earn a come from behind victory. Lincoln outscored Lewis County 16-10 in the final frame to garner the win.
The Cougars were led by Chase Riley (24 points, six rebounds, and four assists), Johnathan Leep (16 points and three steals), Corey Fazalare (nine assists, six rebounds, and four points), and Kyle Owens (eight points and two steals).
Lincoln tips it up today at 1:00 pm in the state capital city against No.2 Bluefield.
This marks the first time that both the girls and boys basketball teams are competing in the state tournament in the same season.
West Virginia University lost its bid for a Big 12 Tournament Championship when it found itself on the wrong end of an 80-74 score against Iowa State. A week earlier the Mountaineers claimed a senior night win over this same Cyclone squad. An early eight point lead didn’t last and WVU’s pressure defense didn’t really affect Iowa State, especially in the second half when it mattered the most. The Mountaineers could only muster a mere five steals, as opposed to 11 for the underdogs.
It marked the second straight year that WVU had made it to the championship game to lose a highly contested outing. On to the “Big Dance” where I expect “Big Wins” from this talented team!
That will do it for now. Until next week … take care and God Bless!