Pius X vs. Lincoln High, boys hoops, 1/12/18

Lincoln Pius X’s Joe Burt (left) blocks a shot by Lincoln High’s Morgan Perry in the second half Friday at Lincoln High School.

FRANCIS GARDLER, JOURNAL STAR

If Friday night’s performance is an indication of what the Lincoln Pius X boys basketball players bring to the table when they’re healthy, then consider this the a warning to the rest of Class A.

The Thunderbolts marched into No. 9 Lincoln High's gym and put on a clinic in an 85-68 win. A different player seemed to step up for Pius X whenever the Links started to cut into their deficit, as four Thunderbolts finished in double-digit scoring, including Charlie Easley with a game-high 24 points.

“We’ve been building up to a performance like that,” Pius X coach Brian Spicka said. “We had a rough start with injuries and players being sick, so we were a little out of rhythm early on. Now that we’ve got back to the rotations we want, it’s starting to come together for us, but there’s a long way to go for us.”

The rotations were on point for the Thunderbolts from the opening tip as they started the game on a 12-2 run that established a double-digit lead they’d rarely lose.

Easley and Joe Burt, who finished with 18 points, combined for 20 points —16 in the first quarter — in the opening half and the Thunderbolts took a 42-29 lead into halftime.

The Links didn’t go away quietly, however. Sammy Richardson scored 13 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and the Links were able to cut their deficit down to six multiple times, but free throw shooting down the stretch iced the game for Pius X.

“Coach (Dan) Noble does a great job with Lincoln High and that’s what makes this win special,” Spicka added. “They’re a great team and kept going on runs. We were able to answer back, which shows some mental toughness. That’s good to see from our guys at this point in the season.”

Keyshawn Jenkins finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for Lincoln High while Pius X’s Joe Dworak scored 14 points.

Lincoln High girls 36, Lincoln Pius X 24

The Links’ Natayah Wilson strung together six straight points when the score was knotted at 24-24 to kick off a big fourth quarter for Lincoln High.

Offense, which came at a premium for most of the night, was not a problem in the fourth quarter for the Links as they outscored the No. 8 Thunderbolts 17-5 to turn a once-close game into a double-digit win.

The teams had gone into halftime with Pius X leading 10-9 after Lincoln High held the Thunderbolts to just three first-quarter points and the Links went scoreless in the second. The offense opened up a bit in the second half but it was the Links' play in the fourth quarter that was the difference.

Wilson led all scorers with 12 in the win.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or scarlson@journalstar.com.

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