This basketball season had some low points, evidenced by the fact three out of four varsity menâ€™s teams had below .500 records. That is not what I want to focus on. Instead, I want to focus on the positives. One of which, being Lincolnton, East Lincoln and North Lincoln all qualifying for the state playoffs.
The outstanding individual performances, comeback stories and youth realizing its potential early in their prep careersâ€”thatâ€™s what I turn my attention to instead.
My Comeback of the Year Award goes to Mustangsâ€™ Head Coach Neil Hodges. After his wife passed away last season, Hodges led East Lincoln to a 15-11 record and coached them into the 3A State Playoffs. Perhaps, more impressive is he was able to do so (the old-school way) teaching fundamentals, the importance of team and the desire to improveâ€¦ while sprinkling in class in the process.
Another high point for me, was watching Darin Dellinger mature (over the past two years) at the point guard position and eventually breaking East Lincolnâ€™s career assistsâ€™ record.
It was also nice watching Ryan Huffman flirt with 30 and occasionally take her out on a date from time-to-time over the past two years. Zack Gibson proved he could emerge from the gigantic shadows Eric and Darren Wilson left.
Other juniors that stepped up were Trishtan Johnson and Lance Friday. The 5â€™11â€ guard attached the rest of his team to his boot straps for the first half of the year leading the Knights in scoring numerous times.
At Lincolnton, the six-foot Friday played center and did an admirable job, becoming a force on the boards as well as a legitimate scorer. He gave the Wolves a solid No. 2 option behind Gibson.
With that being said, I decided to pick the Lincoln-Times All County Team. As I said previously, the selections were not made by coaches or fans, but rather are my opinions.
I did not slop together two teams just for the sake of doing so. One gripe I can already hear is I chose too many North Lincoln players. While I did choose fourâ€¦ I believe the fact theyâ€™re in the 1A Sectional Finals justifies them.
It got kind of tricky when it came to the center position, because both selections in the middle really are more suited as power forwards.
I did my best to be fair and give the nod to the players I felt deserved it most, while at the same time representing all Lincoln Co. Schools. Seniority was also taken into consideration. Some players fall into slots on the Lincoln-Times All County Team they normally donâ€™t play.
Point guard- Darin Dellinger, East Lincoln
Shooting guard- Ryan Huffman, West Lincoln
Small Forward- Zack Gibson, Lincolnton
Power Forward- Kenny Bethea, North Lincoln
Center- Carlos-Marquez Sykes, East Lincoln
Point guard- Lasharion Johnson, North Lincoln
Shooting guard- Trishtan Johnson, North Lincoln
Small Forward- Alex Loftin, North Lincoln
Power Forward- Lance Friday, Lincolnton
Center- Josh Davis, East Lincoln
Jammelle Jefferies, Lincolnton, Jamelle Lowery, East Lincoln, Taylor Woodie, West Lincoln.
Hopefully the Knights can continue to win. No, Iâ€™m not a North Lincoln fanâ€”Iâ€™m a Lincoln Co. fan.
Baseball and softball beckon, Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll see you out at the olâ€™ ball game (as Harry Carey used to sing). If you do see me say hey, but please keep four-letter words to a minimum. As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to everything the spring sports season will add to an already memorable year.
by John Mark Brooks