By Bonta Hill
On a night where Lincoln High School dedicated its home court to former head coach Rick Boyle, a senior guard from Washington crashed the ceremony and had one of his best performances of the season.
Brenden Glapion strengthened his case for Academic Athletic Association player of the year, setting the tone with 10 first-quarter points, and finished with a game-high 30, to go along with five assists, helping the Eagles win 68-60 in Academic Athletic Association play on Wednesday.
“[I tried] to do whatever I could do to win,” Glapion said. “I was just trying to be aggressive at the start of the game and carry that momentum throughout the rest of the game.”
With the win, the Eagles (21-8, 13-1) remain in a first-place tie with Mission the AAA’s Lang Division with two games remaining before the playoffs.
Lincoln (17-12, 10-4) couldn’t climb out of a 16-point second-half deficit, committing 25 turnovers and giving up 14 offensive rebounds to the Eagles.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball, and that led to easy fast break points for them,” said Lincoln interim head coach Matt Jackson. “We just have to come out and be ready, not come out and play from behind.”
Washington took advantage of Lincoln’s miscues early and often. After Mustangs guard Chris Young tied the game at 13-13 early in the second quarter, the Eagles answered with a 15-4 run, mostly off layups, capitalizing in the Mustangs’ sloppiness.
Later, with the Eagles commanding a 41-29 lead with 4:45 left in the third quarter, Glapion sank a smooth baseline jumper, followed immediately by a Jeremy Jetton layup, putting Washington up 45-29.
“We did a much better job on [Glapion] the first time we played, and made everything difficult,” Jackson said. “We didn’t come out with the same intensity, especially on the defensive end. We were way too quiet. We need to be disruptive and we weren’t disruptive tonight, and that allowed [Glapion] to have a big night.”
Lincoln would get aggressive immediately after, and on three consecutive offensive possessions, Young would penetrate and draw fouls from the Washington defenders. Young, who finished with a team-high 20 points, spearheaded a 10-0 run that cut the lead to 45-39.
Glapion had an answer though, getting behind the Lincoln defense for a layup to break the Eagles brief scoring drought.
The Eagles also had solid contributions from Jetton, who had 18 points, and LeVander Moore, who chipped in nine points with 15 rebounds, but this night belonged to Glapion.
With Lincoln down 53-46 with just under three minutes remaining, Glapion calmly dribbled between his legs and dropped a three-pointer from the left wing over Mustang center Kevork Demirjian to give the Eagles a 10-point lead with 2:58 left in the contest.
“This is a game our guys wanted. Lincoln gave us our first loss, but we knew if we could play well we would be in good shape,” said Washington head coach Jolinko Lassiter. “Brenden played great tonight, he answered virtually every run they made.”
Washington then went 12-of-17 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
A showdown against Mission on February 22 awaits Washington, a game that could determine the regular-season Lang champion, but the Eagles are not looking past Friday’s date with Marshall.
“Marshall is a good team and they always play us tough,” Lassiter said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play well against Marshall and we can’t focus on Mission until after the Marshall game.”
Branden Glapion – 30
Jeremy Jetton – 18
LeVander Moore – 10
Galen Hall – 3
Three players tied with 2 points
Chris Young – 20
Kevork Demirjian – 19
Tre Thomas – 10
Remfel Ganal – 4
Nick Young – 3