PUMPKIN CENTER â€” Travis Cannonâ€™s 23 points helped lift the North Lincoln Knights to a 66-42 win over the East Lincoln Mustangs in Southern Piedmont Conference play on Friday.
Cannon was 4-6 from 3-point range, and connected on five of seven field goal attempts, for a 69 percent field goal rating to lead the Knights on offense.
â€œTravis has been tremendous since starting a little slow earlier in the season,â€ North Lincoln head coach Eric King said.
â€œThings have started to click with him. By around October I could see a huge difference in him, in his determination. He has the ability to carry the team when his confidence is high. He had been struggling shooting from the 3-point line, like all four of my starting guards. We went in on Thursday morning and did a shoot-away. They put in about 300 shots that morning, and mentally that may have helped them out a lot. Youâ€™re not going to get that much better after one shooting session, but I think it got them a bit of confidence built up.â€
Christian Ramos and Gray Brotherton also broke double digits for North Lincoln with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Brotherton was a perfect 5-5 from the free-throw line, and had his fifth straight double-double with 11 rebounds to lead the Knights in boards. Ramos logged three steals and seven assists.
The Knights shot 54 percent from the field and advanced to a 5-1 record at home.
â€œYou never expect to win by that much in a rivalry game, but we play as a different team at home,â€ King said.
â€œOur shooting percentage alone is probably double what it is on the road, in terms of 3-point percentage, so we definitely shot the ball much better on Friday night.â€
King said North Lincolnâ€™s home field advantage may be due, in part, to the extremely rambunctious and loud student section that accompanies each home game.
â€œItâ€™s incredible, itâ€™s one of the things I noticed when I first came to North Lincoln,â€ King said.
â€œThe kids want to be a part of something, and it just took a little bit of work from the players. They really go out to try to get the kids to show up, and theyâ€™re starting to give them a decent product on the court as well.â€
The Knights held a 32-18 lead at halftime, but started slow in the second half.
The Mustangs matched their first quarter output in the third quarter, with six points, while the Knights put only 11 points on the board.
Brotherton opened third quarter scoring with two made free throws, followed moments later by a 3-pointer by Cannon. East Lincolnâ€™s Antwaine McLean closed the gap to 37-20 with a field goal, but the Knights responded with a 6-0 run to push their lead further.
The Mustangs bounced back in the fourth quarter, and had their best eight minutes of the game with 18 points. The Knights also turned up the heat in the final period, and posted 23 points for the final margin.
The Knights bounced back from a 47-42 loss in SPC play to Lake Norman Charter a week ago, and are tied with Lake Norman Charter in the conference standings.
â€œThat was a tough loss, at Lake Norman Charter, and one that we feel that, if we had shot the ball better, we could have won,â€ King said. â€œFriday was a crazy night in the conference anyway, with both Highland Tech and Lake Norman Charter losing, so it made it even more important for us to be able to take care of East Lincoln.â€
Lake Norman Charter fell to Bessemer City 41-38 on Friday, while the Cherryville Ironmen downed Highland Tech 78-67.
North Lincoln hosts the Ironmen on Friday, while East Lincoln hosts Bessemer City.