The East Lincoln Mustangs are now 3-0 on the season after beating the North Lincoln Knights 70-67 Wednesday night in Denver.
The Mustangs were once again led by solid-guard play. Junior Jamelle Lowery scored nine of his game-leading 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Darin Dellinger finished with 22 points, having drained three three-pointers in the first quarter.
The formidable backcourt combined with Carlos Marquez-Sykes in the momentum-changing second quarter. Dellinger, Lowery and Marquez-Sykes all scored six apiece to give the Mustangs a 37-22 advantage at halftime.
The Knights narrowed the lead to 50-45 in the third as six different North Lincoln players scored. The main adjustment, that helped the visitors cut into the lead, was on the defensive end as North flip-flopped between a full-court man-to-man and a trapping defense.
â€œWe had to pick up our intensity, so we just tried to switch it up a little bit. We knew we had to pick it up or it was over,â€ Knightsâ€™ head coach David Johnson said.
The adjustment worked as the Knights whittled the Mustangâ€™s lead from 20 to four.
Kenny Bethea scored seven fourth-quarter points, while Lesharion Johnson had six in an attempt to overcome the Mustangsâ€™ lead.
Their effort, along with Peyton Brady who had five in the final period, went in vain as Dellinger and Lowery dominated the decisive fourth leading the Mustangs to their third consecutive victory.
Bethea led the Knights with 17 points. Brothers Lesharion and Trishtan Johnson both were in double figures with 14 and 11 respectively. Brady finished with 11.
Lowery paced the Mustangs with 23, while Dellinger had 22. Marquez-Sykes scored 13.
Johnson believed Lowery and Dellinger were the difference.
â€œTheyâ€™re very good ballplayers. We had a tough time guarding them and we had to pick up the intensity to get us back into the game.â€
North Lincoln drops to 1-5 on the season with the loss.
â€œI was proud of our boys and thatâ€™s what theyâ€™re going to have to do. Itâ€™s a step in the right direction at least,â€ Johnson said.
North Lincoln 67- Lesharion Johnson 14, Kyle Baker 3, Trishtan Johnson 11, Alex Loftin 2, David Ward 5, Justin Thompson 2, Miquan Smith 2, Kenny Bethea 17, Peyton Brady 11.
East Lincoln 70- Darin Dellinger 22, Devin Carter 2, Jamelle Lowery 23, Jason Smith 2, Alex Newsome 3, Carlos Marquez-Sykes 13, Josh Davis 5.
Varsity womenâ€™s game
The North Lincoln Lady Knights upset the Lady Mustangs 57-43.
The Lady Knights were led by Alyssa Lowe who topped the 20-point mark for the second time this season.
â€œShe basically took over the ballgame at certain times. We were able to get her free and she used her penetration to get inside,â€ North Lincolnâ€™s head coach Mark Lackey said.
Perhaps just as important as Loweâ€™s performance was the defensive job done on Alyson Kielar.
â€œShe is a good basketball player. I knew that going in. We tried to keep the pressure on East before they got set in their offense, then in effect it would help us keep the ball out of her hands,â€ Lackey said.
Kielar was limited to an uncharacteristic six points.
The loss is the first one on the season for the Lady Mustangs who fall to 2-1. The Lady Knights are 3-3 and Lackey was pleased with how his team played after a 59-33 loss the night before to East Gaston.
â€œIt was a good win for us. I was concerned about how we might play coming off the loss to East Gaston the night before, but they answered my questions real quickly about that.â€
Caroline Farris added 11 points for North, while Jesse Devine, Lindsey Smith and Sara McCall had six apiece.
Krista Moore led East Lincoln with nine points. Toree Roseboro had eight, while Kim Scercy chipped in with six.
North 57- Alyssa Lowe 20, Caroline Farris 11, Jesse Devine 6, Lindsey Smith 6, Sara McCall 6, Kayla Alexander 4, Kathryn Thorne 4.
East 43- Krista Moore 9, Toree Roseboro 8, Kim Scercy 6, Koree Roseboro 4, Alyson Kielar 6, Shemele Smith 4, Sonny Marthers 3, Shelby McCoughlan 1, Miranda Lamberth 2.
by John Mark Brooks