LEXINGTON â€” Senior Antwaine McLean led the East Lincoln Mustangs to a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes of Wednesdayâ€™s second-round playoff game against the Lexington Yellow Jackets with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and two free throws.
The Yellow Jacketsâ€™ fast-paced defense held the Mustangs to 5-13 from the field during the rest of the first quarter, knotted the game at 14-14 after the first eight minutes of play and used a balanced offensive attack to pull ahead for a 62-57 win.
East Lincoln head coach Neil Hodges said he had expected to see a strong defensive front from Lexington.
â€œWeâ€™d had the opportunity throughout the year to see them play, so the game we about like we expected it to go,â€ he said.
â€œThe difference factor was that we didnâ€™t shoot the ball very well and werenâ€™t as good as we needed to be. That being said, the kids have come a long way. Back in November, if you had said that we would make it to the playoffs and win a game, that would have been a pretty good bet.â€
East Lincolnâ€™s long-range game, which had been extremely potent through the second half of the season, was notably absent from Wednesdayâ€™s game. The Mustangs connected on five of their 14 3-point attempts, and were limited to 15-39 on 2-point field goals.
â€œHe who lives by the jump shot dies by the jump shot,â€ Hodges said.
â€œWhen youâ€™re a long-range shooting team youâ€™re not going to shoot with the same degree of effectiveness every night. We were not quite as effective, itâ€™s just one of those things where we didnâ€™t shoot the ball as well as we have on several occasions.â€
The Mustangsâ€™ offensive woes continued at the free-throw line. East Lincoln shot just over 50 percent from the line, and hit 12 of 23 attempts.
After being limited to 23 total points in the second and third quarters, the Mustangs staged a fourth-quarter rally, and outscored the Yellow Jackets 20-15, the only time they did so during the game.
The Mustangs were down 10 points headed into the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Charlie Hills cut Lexingtonâ€™s lead to eight points with a layup to open the fourth quarter, but the Yellow Jackets banked in a 3-point to go up 50-39.
The Mustangs then went on a 6-0 run, but the Yellow Jackets responded with a 4-0 run of their own.
A 3-pointer by McLean and a layup by Hills brought the Mustangs within four points of the Yellow Jackets with 36 seconds left in the game, but the Yellow Jackets connected on all four of their final free-throw attempts to hold the lead.
Junior Tyler Brock hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left for the final margin.
McLean led the Mustangs with 16 points, while Brock and Hills each added 12 points. Brothers Kevin and Keith Horton each scored 14 points for the Yellow Jackets.
The game was the last in the high school careers of seniors McLean, Marcus McDowell and Javan Tyson-Bryant.