By RYAN HERMAN
Bob Cowie has preached to his Lincolnton High boys basketball team all season the importance of playing at a high level from start to finish.
His words were finally heeded on Friday.
Quinlyn Harris scored 23 points, Will Saine and Colby Pridmore poured in double-doubles and the Wolves downed county rival West Lincoln 71-61 for their first win in their last six games.
Saine scored 14 points, had five assists and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Pridmore added 13 points and 10 boards in a game Cowie described as the best his team has played since November.
“We played the most complete game that we’ve played all year tonight. We did a lot of good things,” the longtime Wolves coach said. “Our effort was much better. Our execution was much better. And we were able to put together long spurts where we played very well.”
The longest and most decisive spurt came in a third quarter after the Rebels trimmed a seven-point halftime deficit down to one at 35-34 early in the period.
A 3 by Saine at the 2:54 mark of the third backed up a 12-3 run, which was followed with a 7-3 stretch and gave Lincolnton (6-9, 3-4 Southern District 7 Athletic 2A) its largest lead at 54-40.
It never dipped below nine again.
The Wolves got some separation early by ending the first quarter on a 10-0 run to turn a 6-6 tie into a 16-6 lead, and they led 33-26 at the break.
West Lincoln (1-16, 0-8) opened the second half with an 8-2 run, but never got any closer.
The win snapped a season-long five-game losing streak for Lincolnton, which was coming off a 46-point loss at Gastonia Forestview two days prior.
The Wolves hadn’t won since knocking off Bandys on Jan. 7, but they’ve struggled all season, not just the last few weeks, Cowie said.
Friday’s win over a rival after having to rally at West Lincoln to win last month was a step in the right direction.
“No one likes losing, and we’re not used to losing around here in any sport. When you lose five in a row, when you lose a game by almost 50 points, that hurts,” Cowie said. “We talked about how bad we felt after we lost to Maiden, and then lost to Forestview, and how it would just be magnified tremendously tonight had we not won.”
Lincolnton, which also got 11 points from Jordon Easter, shot the ball fairly decent at 45 percent (25 for 56) compared to 33 percent (22 for 67) for the Rebels.
West Lincoln won the rebounding battle 44-39, but the Wolves’ much-better shooting led to that.
Of their 39 rebounds, 26 were caroms off the Rebels’ missed shots.
More important than statistics, however, was Cowie saw his team give him its all for 32 minutes.
“Not just the previous five games but basically all year long we’ve struggled to play consistently for long periods of time. We were able to do that tonight,” he said.
Leading West Lincoln were Dylan Frady’s 15 points, 11 points from Todric Anderson and a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds from Zach Carpenter. But it wasn’t enough.
The Rebels opened the game atrociously from the field, hitting just two of their 10 shots. And in the fourth they hit only 4 of 18 from the floor, scoring eight of their 16 points from the free throw line.
West Lincoln, which played without head coach Karl Sain on the sidelines due to the birth of his first child, lost its seventh straight since ending a 30-game losing streak on Dec. 27 which dated back to last season.
Lincolnton, which has three games this week, including Wednesday’s conference make-up at home with Newton-Conover and a game at East Lincoln on Tuesday, moved into a tied for fifth with Bandys.
“We just need to try and continue to play with more consistency and effort. We showed some signs tonight of being a good basketball team, but we’ve got to make sure we move forward from here and not take some steps backwards,” Cowie said.
“We had just a complete effort from a lot of people. It wasn’t any individuals, it was a total team win.”
WEST LINCOLN 36
Saylor Whitesides scored 15 points and Kaniyia Brown added 14 as Lincolnton’s girls also ended their own six-game losing streak.
The Wolves (6-9, 3-4) outscored West Lincoln (5-12, 0-8) 17-3 in the first quarter, then scored the first five points of the second quarter to put this one away early.
Madison Ferguson led the Rebels with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Lincolnton hit seven 3-pointers, and got 13 rebounds from Myrical DeLacy-James.