Lincoln County High boys basketball battled their way to make it to the state championship tournament for the first time since 2013.
The team started out with a win over Adelson, 52-41, Feb. 22. They concluded the weekend with a loss to Meadows, 63-44, Feb. 23, making them the South’s No. 2 seed.
The Lynx will face Incline March 1 at Del Sol High in Las Vegas, with the winner playing the following day in the state finals at The Orleans arena, 4:30 p.m.
“We anticipated Adelson playing a certain way, and they played exactly how we thought,” said Coach Sean FitzSimons.
Sophomore Cody Zile made the first points off a steal and a fast-break layup. Adelson matched it quickly, and the teams went back-and-forth the rest of the first quarter. Sophomore Matt Hafen’s buzzer-beater from beyond the arc gave Lincoln the lead, 14-11.
Lincoln began heating up in the second quarter. The boys’ shots began to fall, and they gained momentum and a 10-point lead.
Lincoln held onto that momentum and stayed ahead the rest of the game. They took the win, 52-41.
“I just think that the youth and inexperience on our team caused us to be nervous for the first little bit,” FitzSimons said. “We were too tight, if you will, and as the game went on we kind of loosened up.”
Zile was the team’s leading scorer with 16 points. Senior Noah Smith dropped 13 points, and senior Alex Vincent was right behind with 12.
The regional finals against The Meadows School turned out to be a different game than the Lynx expected.
FitzSimons said, “Although we were already in the state tournament, we still wanted to win this game.”
Hafen hit a three-pointer at the beginning of the game, but Meadows swiftly took the lead and outscored Lincoln by 11 in the second quarter.
“We just shot horrendously,” FitzSimons said. “We had a lot of good, open looks, but the shots just wouldn’t go in. It was frustrating.”
The team shot 8-for-24 at the free-throw and 15-for-60 from the field “Obviously, we didn’t deserve to win because we couldn’t make our shots,” FitzSimons said. “It is what it is. It’s out of our system for the state tournament this weekend.”
Down by 13 at the start of the third, Lincoln tried for the comeback, but couldn’t get much going, and Meadows cruised to the 19-point wind.
Sophomore Kobe Kelley led the scoring with 14 points, followed by Zile and Hafen, both with 11 points.
Looking ahead to the state tournament, FitzSimons said, “Incline is a lot like us. Not real tall, but fast, and like to get after it. It should be exciting, and we’re going to be preparing all week.”
The other semifinal matchup pits Meadows against North Tahoe, also at Del Sol, 8:15 p.m.