Boys Basketball: Lee seals the deal in Lincoln’s road win over Lowell

Lowell senior Avery Nicastro-Aikman (left) tries to drive past Lincoln senior Remfel Ganal on Tuesday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

By Jeremy Balan

Despite trailing the entire game against Lincoln High School, Lowell was lingering late in the fourth quarter and was only down by eight points with 2 minutes remaining.

That’s when Lincoln junior guard Mitchell Lee single-handedly shut the door on the Cardinals.

In just over a minute of game time, Lee hit a straightaway 3-pointer, pick-pocketed a Lowell guard and scored a fast-break layup, took a charge on defense and knocked down two free throws to seal Lincoln’s 55-42 Academic Athletic Association win on Tuesday at Lowell.

Lowell senior forward Max Pollard (left) tries to sneak a layup past Lincoln sophomore forward Seth Snoddy on Tuesday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

“Defense is the basis of our whole system, and with the defense comes good offense,” Lee said. “When a team is coming back like that, you just want to keep your composure and keep your head in the game.”

Lee, who Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson identifies as the team’s best defender, scored the Mustangs’ final seven points of the game, but has often run into foul trouble this season because of his aggressive play.

“He’s an Energizer Bunny and sometimes that’s a disadvantage,” Jackson said. “He likes to go for steals a lot, and is bumping and reaching in, but he’s quick enough to do it. He will guard anyone and he thinks out there, and that makes life miserable for a lot of opposing scorers.”

Lincoln senior guard Ares Brown also had a standout defensive game with a team-high five steals and the Mustangs (12-11, 7-1) held Lowell scoreless through nearly five minutes in the second quarter to spur a 12-0 run.

The Cardinals (10-10, 5-3) never fully recovered from that run and could only cut the deficit down to seven points once, when senior forward Max Pollard knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Lowell largely corralled Lincoln’s leading scorers Brown and Chris Young, who were held to 11 points apiece, with a varying defenses, but could not find its own consistent scoring threat.

Lowell senior Avery Nicastro-Aikman came on late and scored a game-high 16 points, but no other Lowell player scored more than six points.

The Cardinals also consistently missed contested layups and shot 9-for-19 from the free-throw line, while Lincoln hit 15-for-17 attempts.

“We are just starting to turn the corner on understanding how hard we have to play and we get into these lapses of a month ago, when we didn’t have to play as hard,” said Lowell head coach Rob Ray. “Against the better teams, like Lincoln and Mission, you gotta play hard all the time.”

The Cardinals are undefeated when playing Neff Division opponents, but have gone 0-3 against the stacked Lang Division.

Still the Neff favorites, the Cardinals will have to take on a Lang team in the first round of the AAA playoffs.

“The bad news is that we’re 0-3 [against the Lang Division], but we feel like we can play with them,” Ray said. “Hopefully, they take us for granted and we’ll see Marshall, Lincoln and Mission again.”

Scoring Leaders

Lincoln
Ares Brown – 11
Chris Young – 11
Nick Young – 10
Mitchell Lee – 9
Seth Snoddy – 6

Lowell
Avery Nicastro-Aikman – 16
Zachary Yu – 6
Jackson Miao – 5
Max Pollard – 5
Bryan Robinson – 5

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20 Comments

  1. yall trippin says:

    the neff division has always been weak. lang division is way more dominant and running lang div fools. they need to switch up the divisons a little and make them more balanced because they have been unbalanced for as long as i can remember

    • yall trippin says:

      **lang division is way more dominant and running *neff div fools.

    • JJ says:

      I agree they need to make the Neff and Lang divisons more even. The Lang Division is like the Miami Heat, Mavericks, and Lakers, while the Neff is like the Warriors, Suns, and Toronto Raptors. The quality of education seems to be better in the Neff, though.

    • JJ says:

      Do you know if the AAA commisioner or the higher ups are alums from Lowell, because the way the divisions are divided, it seems like Lowell has the easiest chance to make it to the Championship game every year. However, this would work in the WCAL. If I was the WCAL commisioner, I would make a Bruce division comprised of The 3 SF schools (SI, SH, Riordan) & Serra, and then make a Mahoney division comprised of Valley Christian, Bellarmine, Mitty and St Francis. This would make the league more exciting.

    • GCJ 01 says:

      The Lang Division HAS NOT always been stronger than the Neff division. However, this has been the case the last couple of seasons. But I do agree that they should shake the divisions up every year. If I’m not mistaken, the AAA does shake up the divisions in soccer and baseball. They should do it in basketball and football as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        What the AAA should do, is move Washington and Marshall to the Neff division, and place Burton and Galileo in the Lang division.

        • yall trippin says:

          exactly wat im trying to say. Lowell never have to work as hard as Lincoln, Wash, Mission, etc to get the champs. No offense but the Neff division is a bunch of scrubs cus usually the kids that are good that go to those schools never be having the grades to play. Lang division have to work their butt of to get to the championship!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lowell is seriously shooting themselves in the foot. They’re beating themselves. Watching their past few games, they are constantly missing layups, not cashing in on their free throw attempts, and they do not seem to be playing like the games actually mean something to them . On top of that, they made very costly turnovers at the most inopportune times. I think if Lowell limits their silly mistakes, they can keep it really close with the top teams like Mission, Lincoln, and Marshall. Come playoff time, I expect Lowell to come back playing with a chip on their shoulder and playing smarter basketball.

  3. Feel The Pain says:

    Lowell will stay close in most of their games, due to their style of play. No disrespect to Coach Ray, but although they may be able to play with the likes of Mission, Marshall, and Lincoln (Washington and Balboa games will be challenging for them as well), they have lost by double digits each time, which means they have problems closing games.

    Earlier in the season they defeated Galileo and Burton at home by closing well, but I’m curious to see how they fare on the road against those schools at their place. With the Lions victory over a short handed Mission team, the Cardinal will most likely have to beat the Lions to secure the Neff #1 seed, otherwise they could fall to a #2 and end up facing Marshall or Lincoln again in the playoffs.

    Balboa is making a nice run and games next week with Lowell and Galileo can boost, not only their playoff chances, but their confidence level that they can play with those teams if they were to meet in the opening round of the playoffs.

    • Cats Pride says:

      I’ve never been to a AAA game, do they get big turn outs?the gyms seem tiny.

      • Anonymous says:

        yes they get big turn outs, not just do they get big turn out, there is student support. The tiny gyms add to the excitment, the AAA teams that trap and press uses the size to their advantage. Teams have to prepare to plays in those tiny gyms.

        I would love to see the WCAL schools come and play in some of the small gyms i.e: Mission, Galileo, Balboa and Marshall; Marshall is a tough place to play, specially when the gym is three people deep.

      • sf alum says:

        definitely not a lot of big crowds but i would say go to the playoff games at kezar when they happen those are always fun and hotly contested

        • AAA says:

          Come to the Lowell/Washington game tomorrow night (Friday, Jan. 27) at Kezar. The annual quad-header games between Lowell and Washington feature:

          Girls JV – 3:30pm
          Boys F/S – 5:00pm
          Girls Varsity – 6:30pm
          Boys Varsity – 8:00pm

          Attendance wise this is the largest crowd to watch a AAA regular season game every year (around 1000 people for the varisty games) and both Lowell and Washington have a dislike for one another to say the least.

      • GCJ 01 says:

        Not all of the gyms are small. Marshall’s and Jordan’s are small because they used to be middle schools at one point. I do not know the reason why Bal’s, Gal’s, and Mission’s are small. One would think that they would be bigger since they are three of the oldest schools in the City. Burton, Lincoln, Washington, Lowell, and O’Connell have big gyms.

  4. mger says:

    got to love Remfel Ganals facial reaction.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Its easy for lowell to get the semi’s but then they will still have to play the wnd seed from the lang division.

    • Feel The Pain says:

      I think it depends what seed they are from the Neff. A rematch with Marshall or Lincoln in the first round doesn’t seem like a shoe in win for the Cardinal and a trip to the semi’s. Alot will depend on the Washington, Balboa, Galileo, and Burton games that Lowell has coming up in the next few weeks. They need the #1 seed to have a good chance, but by no means easy shot, at getting to the semi’s . We shall see!

  6. The dude says:

    They should just put all the teams in one big conference with the first 8 seeds making the playoffs. They all play once against each other.

  7. AAA Fan says:

    Tomorrow’s game with Galileo and Lincoln playing will be a good game. Even though its going to be hard to stop Lincoln’s aggressiveness, Galileo will come out hard and will be hungry to play. This is a game I would watch tomorrow.

  8. GCJ 01 says:

    Lowell, if they can hold off Gal, will come in first, which means they will host the 4th seed in the Lang (which currently is Wash). The problem is the Lang top four teams are all tough. The good thing for Lowell, even if they do finish second, they get to host the game and will avoid both Mission and Lincoln in the first round.

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