Boys Basketball: Lincoln holds off late Mission rally to extend first-place lead
By Jeremy Balan
It’s almost unfathomable to imagine a team scoring 39 points in a quarter of high school basketball, let alone have enough offensive possessions to do so.
Mission High School did just that in the fourth quarter against Lincoln on Friday – and lost.
The late surge wasn’t enough to beat the Mustangs, who went on to secure a 80-74 Academic Athletic Association win, because visiting Mission scored more points in the fourth quarter than it did in the first three combined.
Lincoln (17-11, 12-1) played nearly flawless through three quarters, led by as many as 27 points late in the third and carried a 62-35 lead into the final frame.
The Mustangs even held a 74-60 lead with 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, but then things got a little bit crazy.
The Bears (17-10, 10-3) scored 14 points in just over a minute of game time, capped by back-to-back, 35-foot 3-pointers from junior point guard Antoine Porter, which cut the Lincoln lead to 78-74 with 11 seconds left.
Three seconds later, Lincoln senior guard Chris Young put the game out of reach with two made free throws.
“They were able to get us flustered like they did last year, when we were up by the same amount of points with about a minute to go,” Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson said of Mission’s trapping press defense that forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter. “We didn’t want to foul and those are the shots we want them to take and they just went in. I don’t know if it’s luck or if they work on that, but they hit some big ones.”
Porter had 10 points in the final quarter to finish with 17 and Mission senior forward Gione Edwards had 16 in the fourth to finish with a game-high 25 points and 18 rebounds, but the game was largely controlled by the Lincoln guards.
Led by a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds off the bench from senior Nick Young, the Lincoln guards combined to score 68 points.
Nick Young, who starts at times but mostly comes off the bench, was seemingly unstoppable in the second quarter. He scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor in the second frame, including a contested fall-away jumper at the buzzer to give the Mustangs a 43-24 lead at the half.
“He is a spark,” Jackson said. “When he starts, [all of the guards] get tired at the same time and we look for that spark. He’s doing a great job [in that role].”
The Lincoln guards drove through the Mission defense at-will, and Chris Young had 13 points and junior guard Mitchell Lee scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor.
“We knew we’d able to do that against them,” Jackson said. “When we spaced the court, our guards were aggressive, made the extra pass when necessary and stayed in attack mode.”
The Mission defense had plenty of success forcing turnovers with its press, but could not stop the Lincoln guards in halfcourt sets.
The Bears also struggled mightily on the offensive end, shooting just over 20 percent from the floor in the first three quarters. The Bears also had difficulties with Lincoln’s zone defense, a strategy for defending Mission that has worked in recent games.
Some of the difficulties on both ends of the floor stemmed from Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya suspending four seniors for the game, including one starter, for disciplinary reasons.
“Sometimes when you don’t have your entire [roster], it takes them a while to realize they can still play,” Zelaya said. “Our game is to go to the rim and we want to get to the rim before they can even set up the zone. It’s easy to hit jumpers when you’re down 20 points.”
The win gives the Mustangs a two-game cushion in the Lang Division and puts the Bears into a second-place tie with Marshall, which routed Jordan on Friday.
“Maybe this is the wake up call for them,” Zelaya said. “We lost two in a row in the AAA and I don’t remember the last time that happened.”
Nick Young – 24
Mitchell Lee – 15
Chris Young – 13
Ares Brown – 8
Remfel Ganal – 8
Gione Edwards – 25
Antoine Porter – 17
Miles Prescott – 11
Kevin Murray – 7
Armani McFarland – 6
Here’s another highlight video from our friend George Nguyen