DALLAS â€” With the majority of his starters missing Wednesdayâ€™s game because theyâ€™re playing in the Class 2A football state title game this weekend, Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie was hoping to survive just one more game.
And his Wolves did just that.
Behind 27 points from senior Lorenzo Carter, Lincolnton held off North Gaston 61-54.
â€œWe made a lot of mistakes along the way, not only Monday night, but tonight,â€ Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie said of his team, which beat Maiden in triple-overtime earlier this week. â€œBut the bottom line is that weâ€™re 2-0 and weâ€™re happy about that.â€
Carter scored seven points and D.J. Cunningham added six as the Wolves (2-0, 0-0 SPC) ran to a 19-11 first-quarter lead. But North Gastonâ€™s Daquan Mintz hit all five of his shots in the second quarter, finishing the half with 16 points, as the Wildcats pulled ahead 32-30 at the break.
There were seven lead changes in the second half, but one common theme. Every time North Gaston appeared poised to seize control on the game, Carter came to the rescue.
The senior guard sank three shots in the third quarterâ€”a three-pointer from the baseline cut the North Gaston lead to one, his driving layup gave Lincolnton a one-point advantage midway through the quarter and his deep three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:10 remaining gave the Wolves a one-point edge entering the final quarter.
â€œYou got to be mentally tough,â€ Carter said. â€œThatâ€™s what I was thinking (each time North Gaston rallied).â€
With all that, Carter saved his best for last. First, after Alonzo Mobley, who added 16 points for Lincolnton, sank two free throws to put the Wolves ahead 47-46, Carter banked in a long three-pointer and was fouled by Mintz. He missed the free throw, but his fifth three-pointer of the night gave Lincolnton its biggest lead since early in the second quarter.
North Gaston wasnâ€™t done. Zaye Stowe scored with 2:26 left to cut the Wolvesâ€™ lead to 55-53. Then Carter administered his final blow in the form of a 22-footer to stretch the lead to 58-53.
â€œI was thinking, if they leave me open, if they give me some separation, Iâ€™m going to make it,â€ said Carter, who connected on 6-of-9 from long range. â€œI knew we needed it.â€
Cunningham added 12 points for Lincolnton and Brandon Houser chipped in two second-half baskets in key spots. Another key for the Wolves was containing Mintz. Mintz scored just five of his 21 points in the second half and was harassed into 2-of-9 shooting.
â€œWe tried to play some good pressure man defense. They gave us problems,â€ Cowie said. â€œWe couldnâ€™t rebound the ball early. We talked about limiting them to one shot and that was a big key for us defensively.â€
Mobley also came up big in the final quarter. He sank all four of his free throw attempts and totaled six points.
â€œWe felt like we were going to have the two best players on the floor tonight in Lorenzo and Alonzo,â€ Cowie said. â€œThey were going to have to carry the load for us and they hit a lot of big shots at big times. But we also had a lot of contributions from other people along the way that really helped us out, also.â€
Lincolntonâ€™s game today against Maiden is canceled because of the Wolvesâ€™ state championship game Saturday in Raleigh. Next up for the undefeated Wolves is a Dec. 9 matchup against Forestview.
The short-handed squad will enjoy its successful opening week to the season.
â€œIt feels good,â€ Carter said. â€œItâ€™s good that we got these two wins this week.â€