Special to LTN
LINCOLNTON — Inexperienced and young.
It’s a combination that can scare a head coach one minute and thrill the next.
On Friday night, Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie caught glimpses of both as the Wolves dropped their season opener to Forestview, 62-52.
“We have a very inexperienced team,” Cowie said. “The one player we do have who’s played some varsity minutes is (Alonzo) Mobley. The rest of those guys haven’t played any significant varsity basketball. And we knew there were going to be some mistakes tonight. We talked about trying to limit the mistakes. We knew we were going to have some growing pains.”
A year after finishing 21-5 and winning the Southern Piedmont tournament title, Cowie had the task of replacing all five of his starters — players who accounted for nearly all of the Wolves’ offense from a year ago.
Against Forestview (2-1), the Wolves looked like a team trying to find an offensive identity out of the gates, connecting on just two of 12 field goal attempts in the opening quarter. But at the same time, the Jaguars were cold, too. They hit just four of 17 shots in the opening quarter for a 9-5 advantage. The two teams heated up in the second quarter and Forestview built a 30-23 halftime lead.
Early in the third quarter, Forestview stretched its lead to 34-25 after a pair of Pierce Guffey baskets in the paint. That’s when a light went off for the Wolves.
D.J. Cunningham scooped in a shot in the lane and converted a steal into a three-point play to cut the Jaguars lead to 34-30. Will Saine made a steal and beat the defense back for a layup and Mobley hit a runner in the lane to tie the game, 34-34. After another defensive stop Brandon Houser hit a left-handed hook shot on the baseline with 4:47 remaining to give the Wolves their first lead since Mobley opened the game with a three-pointer.
Four ties and two lead changes later, Forestview’s T.J. Fair banked in a long three-pointer in the final minute to give the Jaguars a 45-44 lead entering the final quarter.
Mobley, who scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, gave the Wolves a 50-49 lead with 5:29 left in the game. Forestview’s Devante Mackins answered with a basket in the paint to give put the Jaguars back on top, 51-50.
After a Lincolnton miss, the Jaguars pulled the ball out, content to run some clock.
At the same time, the Wolves took the opportunity to rest their legs and sit back in a zone.
Forestview milked nearly a minute and a half off the clock before Lincolnton switched to man-to-man defense. But Ben Hinton slipped free and buried a three-pointer with 2:51 remaining to make it 54-50. Fair and Hinton capped off the 7-0 run that gave Forestview a 58-50 lead that the Wolves were unable to overcome.
Lincolnton went 10 players deep in the loss. Cunningham scored 13 points and Saine added 10 in support of Mobley.