“We came out and played well in the first half,” Lincoln head coach Rush Rutledge said. “We got a little tired, which, it’s still early in the season. We got a little sloppy and didn’t defend like we needed to in the second half. That’s part of the reason they got back in it because they made some big 3s in the second half and fought their way back in it. Free throws for us about let it slip away because we’re struggling with that right now. I was proud of them. That’s three in a row for us. It was a big win because they battled back and we finished it off right there at the end.”
Lincoln (3-2) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. Comer answered with a 9-0 run to regain the lead, 9-5 following a Henry Averette 3-pointer. Prior to that, Dee Embery came up with a steal and subsequent layup to give the team their first lead of the game.
Lincoln answered with a 9-0 run of their own that helped them gain a 14-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. Shedrick Thomas scored two points in the post to get the momentum going for the Golden Bears.
In the second quarter, they pushed their lead to double digits, 26-16. Dee Johnson dominated early in the quarter, scoring eight straight points, including a dunk. He then scored on a rebound and putback to give Lincoln a 24-9 lead.
Comer was able to cut to 24-16 after a 7-0 run. Lincoln’s Jalen Turner scored two points inside several seconds before halftime.
Comer outscored Lincoln in the third quarter to cut Lincoln’s lead to 38-34. The team was paced by Houston Ford, who knocked down three 3-pointers in the quarter.
Comer actually came back to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. Embery had another steal and ensuing layup, this time to give his team a 46-44 lead with 3:15 left in the game.
However, Lincoln was able to make just enough free throws down the stretch to seal the game. Devon Whiteside made one of two to give Lincoln a 52-49 lead. With 1:12 remaining, Zay Caldwell made both of his free throw attempts to give Lincoln a 54-50 lead. Tyler Holmes answered for Comer with a basket inside off an Averette assist to cut the lead to 54-52. With 24.4 seconds, Caldwell made one of two free throws to give Lincoln a 55-52 lead. It also happened to be Embery’s fifth and final foul with Hale and Ford already fouled out.
“In the first half, they were shaky,” Comer head coach Carson Grier said. “They haven’t played against that physical of a team and a half-court trap team. They haven’t seen a lot of half-court traps because most of the teams we’ve played, it’s man-to-man. We had to make a decision whether to make it an 88-foot game or keep it. I decided we could get more out of it. We kept those big guys out of rhythm because we kept them running. So, we pushed it. That’s not what we’re going to do all the time, but that’s what we had to do tonight. We got into some foul trouble down the stretch. The wrong person fouled there. I was hollering over here ‘Foul,’ but I told him ‘You cannot foul.’ One was coming to foul for him; he just didn’t get there in time. They haven’t been in those types of situations.”
Caldwell sealed the game with a free throw and mere seconds remaining. A big key for Lincoln was being able to grab rebounds on missed free throws to give the team second chances, which occurred at least twice in the closing minute of the game.
“I’m really impressed with Lincoln,” Grier said. “They played more like the old Lincoln teams.”
Lincoln spread the ball around with Turner finishing as the team’s leading scorer with 13 points. Caldwell contributed nine points, Johnson had eight points, Whiteside had seven points and Thomas had six points.
For B.B. Comer, Ford led the team in scoring with 15 points, while Hale had 12 points and Embery was also in double digits with 11 points. Averette contributed seven points.
In the preceding game between the girls’ teams of the two schools, Comer used a strong third quarter to push them to a 35-33 win.
Comer managed to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 26-24 lead after finishing the quarter on a 9-2 run. Hicks hit a shot while driving neat the foul line with 6.1 seconds remaining in the half to give Comer the lead.
Essence McKenzie led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 14 points, while Kebrashia Hicks was also in double digits, finishing with 12 points. Tykea Wells contributed four points.
Tigeria Truss scored in double digits for Lincoln, finishing with 10 points. Gwendolyn Bedford contributed nine points.
“It was just a good win for us,” Comer head coach Anthony Jacks said. “It’s only our third game of the year, but I was proud of the way our team played. We’re without Valencia (Lawson) right now and we’ve been relying on her for two or three years. She’s bailed us out of a lot of problems, but we’re having to learn to play without her right now. I was proud of the way the kids stepped up. It was a total team effort. Everybody did some things that they didn’t do last time.”