(NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR)
By RYLY JANE HAMBLETON
Lincoln Journal Star
Lincoln Southeast turned up the heat defensively in the first quarter, which more than offset a cool shooting performance.
The Class A third-ranked Knights (5-0) earned a 66-51 victory against No. 4 Lincoln Southwest on Thursday at Prasch Activities Center before an estimated 1,600 fans.
Leading 7-6, Southeast went on an 8-0 run, forcing five turnovers. Derrius Vick, who led the Knights with 20 points, drove for a basket and completed a three-point play, then teammate Eric Jackson scored on an assist from Derek Shouse and completed a three-point play. Vick added two more free throws for a 15-6 lead.
The Silver Hawks matched Southeast point-for-point in the second quarter until the Knights scored twice in the final 10 seconds. Shouse scored on an assist from Jaydee Jurgensen, then Vick got a steal and fed Jackson for a basket at the buzzer and a 35-23 halftime lead.
"I don't think they're an easy team to press, but we usually start pressing, and we were hoping it would help us a little more than it would help them," said Southeast coach Jeff Smith. "We got some early tips and easy ones and that really got us off to the right start we wanted.
"That's how we're used to playing, and we didn't want to change anything even though (Drew) Edmond is good with the ball and (Jordan) Tyrance is dangerous in the open floor."
The Knights would have had an even bigger lead if they had made their chip shots. Southeast missed at least five open layups in the first half and finished the game shooting 22-for-56 (39 percent) from the field.
"I think we just got in a hurry. We got excited to get the ball and get a rebound and just hurried stuff back up there," Smith said. "We tried to tip it a little too much instead of getting two hands on it."
That was more than offset by the defensive pressure and passing. Southeast forced 18 turnovers, recording nine steals, and the Knights had 11 assists. Vick had three assists and two steals.
"We did move the ball pretty well, and there was some good passing and good cuts," Smith said. "We shot the free throws well, which was big.
"They are so athletic; they're a handful. But we're fairly athletic and match up with them as well as we have in awhile."
The Knights were 21-of-26 from the line, with Vick making 12 of 13 free throws.
Rylan Cotton paced Southwest with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Edmond added 12 points.
"You can't have one versus five," said Southwest coach Duane Baack. "We're just not a very good team right now. When you have seven assists in a ball game, that's not being a team.
"Southeast had bounces go their way, but they were working their tails off. They created their own luck and got some easy buckets."