VALE — The North Lincoln Knights boys varsity basketball team knocked off the top team and the bottom team in the Southern Piedmont Conference in the span of less than a week.
The Knights took a 55-52 win over the first-place Bessemer City Yellow Jackets on Tuesday and closed out the week with a 63-42 win over the last-place West Lincoln Rebels on Friday.
The Knights (9-6, 2-3) showed a strong defensive front and held the Rebels to five third-quarter points and edged West Lincoln 20-18 in the fourth quarter to take a key conference win headed into the school’s exam week and Friday’s cross-county game at East Lincoln.
“We went to a couple of different zones and then back to man after we took the lead,” North Lincoln head coach Eric King said. “We’re trying to do a few things because our defense hasn’t been exactly where we want it to be. We’re trying to come out a bit more aggressive and let that carry over into our man-to-man. The last two games it’s been something that we’ve done better with.”
The Rebels (2-11, 0-5) held a short-lived 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. Senior Alec Bruning stole the ball from the Knights and hit a field goal 20 seconds into the game. Senior West Lincoln guard Brett Huff followed that score with a 3-pointer to put the Rebels ahead 5-0 less than 90 seconds into the game.
“West knocked down some shots in the beginning but we switched defense a couple of times and got them off-balance,” King said. “I think it kind of snowballed for them from there. We were able to get out and run a little bit and get some easy baskets.”
North Lincoln’s Chase Stehling (4 points) got the Knights on the board with a layup. Huff pulled the Rebels ahead 7-2 with a field goal with 4:58 left in the first period and gave West Lincoln a 9-4 lead with a layup with just over a minute left.
Hunter Caldwell scored a layup and Christian Ramos added a field goal off a steal in the final minute of the first quarter.
The Knights doubled up on the Rebels in the second quarter, outscoring West Lincoln 20-10 and taking a 30-19 lead into the halftime break.
Caldwell touched off the period with two free throws but Huff answered with a field goal. North Lincoln’s Jeremy Brotherton scored a free throw and Terrel McClain added a layup to give the Knights a 15-11 lead as part of a 12-0 run that was snapped when Huff made two free throws.
Daniel Schesny made a field goal and Samuel Redding banked in a free throw for West Lincoln in the final minute of the first half.
Both teams have a week off for exams before the Knights travel to face the second-place East Lincoln Mustangs on Friday. The Rebels travel to Lincolnton.