Down the stretch, Lincoln High got a little more zip in its game, and that was enough to hold off a stubborn Lincoln East boys basketball team.
The Class A fifth-ranked Links picked up the tempo down the stretch to post a 61-51 victory Friday before an estimated crowd of 1,000 at the East gym.
"We got some situations at the end. We got it down to four points, but they forced us into a tempo that we weren't ready to play," said East coach Ed McPherren. "It was closer than a 10-point game, but you have to scramble and make things happen."
That's what the Links did after Jordan Yurth and Jordan Newman both scored on offensive rebounds to cut Lincoln High's lead to 50-45 with 2:30 left in the game.
After John Harris drove for a basket for the Links, Brad Hilligoss answered with a short jumper, but then the Links scored nine unanswered points. Tobin Reinwald hit a three-pointer when Dylan Flinn passed to him from under the basket, and Harris sandwiched two driving layups around a fast-break basket by Tommy Johnson.
"East is very well-coached and they were in their matchup zone, and it took us a while to figure that out," said Lincoln High coach Dan Noble. "In the fourth quarter, my assistants did a great job talking to me and coming up with things we should try."
The Links forced six turnovers in the first quarter, but weren't able to convert many opportunities and led 15-10. The Spartans erased that with a 9-0 run on a three by Hilligoss, two baskets by Jordan Herstein and one by Yurth for a 19-15 lead.
The game was tied 27-27 at halftime. The Spartans took a 29-27 lead on a pair of free throws by Hilligoss, but Johnson scored for the Links, then Reinwald scored on an assist from Deondre White to put the Links on top for good at 31-29.
"There were a lot of empty possessions and that's something we're focused on in practice," Noble said.
"We're awfully young. We have a couple of sophomore kids who are handling the ball a lot," Noble said of Harris and White.
The Spartans' matchup zone caused problems for Lincoln High center Flinn, but the senior still scored 13 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked three shots, had two steals and dished out three assists.
"I thought Flinn did a great job of passing the ball tonight, and I hadn't seen him do that," McPherren said. "That's what good players do."