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01/13/2017 - BOYS BASKETBALL: East Win Close One At Northeast

By Jeff Motz

Mark it as another close victory for Lincoln East in their longtime boys basketball rivalry with Lincoln Northeast.

The Spartans held on late and beat the Rockets 59-57 before an estimated 2,800 fans Friday on Northeast Athletic Hall of Fame night at the Ed Johnson Gym.

It's the second win of the season for East over Northeast, which came just two weeks after the Spartans captured the Heartland Athletic Conference title over the Rockets 55-52 on Dec. 31.

East (9-2) got balanced scoring from Sam Griesel and Jordan Janssen, each scoring 15 points to lead the Spartans in the win.  On the flip side, Northeast sophomore guard Malcolm Whitlow led all scorers with a game-high 39 points, just 18 shy of the school and Class A record held by Jerry Motz in 1964.

Leading 26-25 at halftime, East created a gap by driving to the basket and limiting Whitlow's production.  The Spartans had a four-point lead to start the fourth quarter and sprinted out to a 48-39 lead.  

Northeast (7-6) started attacking the basket and got a spark from Tivon Phillips, who scored 11 points for the Rockets.  Phillips converted on a three-point play to pull Northeast to within two, 56-54 with 27 seconds left.

Griesel sank 3-of-4 free throws in the final 20 seconds for East, then Whitlow hit a three for the Rockets right before the buzzer with less than one second left before the Spartans had inbound the ball to run out the clock.

Defensively, East relied on help defense to limit the production of Northeast's 6-9 senior center Trace Tupper under the basket.  Tupper, who averages around 18 points a game, was held to five points while spending most of the game in foul trouble.

Pete Ackerman added 11 points and Alex Aldana scored 10 off the bench to help lead East, who has won seven straight games.
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