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Knights blast Rebels 60-24

Special to LTN

PUMPKIN CENTER — Excuse North Lincoln coach Eric King and his team if they had to double check the GPS coordinates for the location of Friday night’s conference contest against West Lincoln.
After all, the Knights had not played on their home court in nearly a month. But it was like riding a bike for North Lincoln as the Knights settled in to their familiar surroundings, scored the game’s first 11 points and won for the fourth time in five games at home this season, 60-24.
“The guys were anxious to come back home, it’s been a while since we played a home game. I think our last home game was — I can’t tell you — it was way before Christmas,” said King, whose team last played on its home court Dec. 9 against Alexander Central.
“They were excited to come back and they knew they would have a good strong, crowd tonight. That was important to them. After that, it did kind of snowball for West.”
The Knights improved to 3-2 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A and 9-4 overall, while West Lincoln fell to 0-5 and 1-12.
It was a tough outing for the Rebels, who struggled offensively. They connected on just eight field goals — four in both halves — and leading scorer Kyle Wyatt was frustrated from the start.
“That was huge, that was our main focus going in — control Wyatt and that’s what we did — we shut him down pretty much,” said North Lincoln junior Hunter Caldwell, who scored seven points, to go along with five steals and four assists. “Even though we missed a lot of shots, we made up for it on defense.”
Houston Gilmore led the Rebels with eight points, Alec Bruning scored five and Wyatt was held to three points after scoring West Lincoln’s first basket of the game.
“We couldn’t hit anything,” Rebels coach Karl Sain said. “I think we were 5 for 24 on twos and 3 for 15 on threes. We couldn’t hit a free throw (5 for 18). We just couldn’t get it going.”
After the quick start, North Lincoln led 18-4 after the opening quarter. The Rebels fought back to 19-9 on Gilmore’s three-pointer with 4:26 left in the half. From there, the Knights closed the half on an 11-2 run as Travis Cannon scored six points off three turnovers in the final 1:20 of the half to give the Knights a 30-11 halftime advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Max Caldwell came off the bench to score five points and Brandon Edwards four more as the Knights’ bench sparked a 13-2 run in the first four minutes to make it 54-19.
Gray Brotherton led North Lincoln with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Cannon added 10, while Christian Ramos and both Caldwells scored seven apiece.
King was pleased that the Knights didn’t get complacent after building the early lead.
“That’s always a threat when you’re also playing a rival,” said King, whose team plays at Lake Norman Charter on Tuesday. “You know if you give them an opportunity, the momentum is going to swing. It can be a close game from there.
“I thought they tried to do a couple of things to try and get back in the game. We switched defenses a few times and I was real proud of our guys, regardless of who I had in. We kept up the defensive intensity.”
West Lincoln tries to bounce back Tuesday at Bessemer City.
“We’re struggling right now,” Sain said. “We have three seniors and only one of them was on the team last year. So we have a young team, we have one go-to player and we’re trying to find pieces to complement him. We’ve got good play to get people open, we’re not hitting those shots.”

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