By Jeremy Balan
With two key frontcourt players out with injuries Thursday, Lincoln High School’s boys basketball team started five guards for the first time this season.
Out of their comfort zone on offense, the Mustangs’ high-pressure defense proved to be the difference in a 49-36 Academic Athletic Association win over visiting Galileo.
The Mustangs (13-11, 8-1) pressed from start to finish, forced 20 Galileo turnovers and held the Lions (11-10, 6-3) to their lowest point total in AAA play this season.
“We wanted to make it a full-court game, and we won with defense,” said Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson. “We finished strong and it’s nice to see, when we get a lead, we’re holding our ground and playing some good defense.”
The Lions actually shot just over 48 percent from the floor, but only took 35 shots and just 16 in the second half, mostly due to the turnovers.
“One of the things we’ve been constantly trying to battle is the turnovers,” said Galileo head coach Jeremy Lee. “Today we were very indecisive with the basketball, and our indecision led to turnovers at inopportune times. We weren’t very patient and we were rushing everything, and that led to a lot of confusion and some really bad possessions.”
Galileo senior forward Max Betowski took advantage of the small Lincoln lineup early and scored five first-quarter points, but he ran into foul trouble in the final three quarters and the Mustangs denied him the ball as the game progressed.
Betowski still finished tied for the team lead with 12 points, but his impact waned during long stretches on the bench.
“We really wanted to make it difficult for him and our guards did a great job pressuring to make sure the pass into him wasn’t easy,” Jackson said. “Our team defense is looking really good, and from the first guy to the 11th guy, we’re starting to play some good basketball.”
Lincoln struggled plenty on the offensive end as well, but got another solid performance from senior guard Chris Young, who scored a game-high 17 points. Fellow senior guard Nick Young also provided a lift off the bench, adding 10 points.
The Mustangs remain in a first-place tie with Mission in the AAA’s Lang Division, while the Lions will await the result of Lowell’s game against Washington on Friday night to see if they will hang onto sole possession of the Neff Division’s top spot.
“We look at the [standings], but we want to emphasize improvement over wins and losses,” Lee said. “The victories will come along with growing as a team.”
Chris Young – 17
Nick Young – 10
Remfel Ganal – 8
Ares Brown – 6
Mitchell Lee – 6
Max Betowski – 12
Brion Gregorson – 12
Christopher Lee – 6
Three players tied with 2 points
Here’s another highlight video thanks to our friend George Nguyen