Lincoln High is a senior-laden basketball team that’s been together for a long time, and the Links played like it at home Thursday night.
Lincoln High took control in the first half, then never let Class A No. 8 Lincoln North Star back in it as the Links improved to 2-1 with their 75-56 triumph before an estimated 800 spectators at Earl Johnson Gym.
“We were able to play at our tempo tonight,” said Lincoln High coach Dan Noble, whose team bounced back after falling at No. 1 Bellevue West on Monday night.
“We want to push the ball, crash the offensive glass and take advantage of the athleticism we have, but I also thought our kids showed maturity by recognizing time and score in the second half and running the clock with some long possessions.”
With the Links’ top returning scorer from last year, 6-foot-1 senior Jaden Horton, sidelined by illness for the second straight game, the perimeter trio of 6-1 senior Keyshawn Jenkins, 5-11 senior Yashua Bradley and 6-3 junior Jaxson Barber kept the offense rolling.
Bradley scored 18 points off the bench, including 10 in the first quarter to propel the Links to a 20-12 lead after eight minutes. He was 7-of-10 from the field overall and 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc.
“Yashua spread their (North Star) defense out by hitting some early threes and that opened some driving lanes up for some other guys,” Noble said. “He was very efficient with what he did and also had an outstanding game defensively (with four steals).”
North Star (1-2) never got closer than seven points after the first quarter as a 9-3 Lincoln High spurt to end the second period gave the Links a 33-20 edge at intermission. Lincoln High’s margin fluctuated between 11 and 19 points in the second half as Jenkins kept North Star at bay with all 16 of his points coming after intermission.
Barber finished with 10.
Lincoln High’s 6-6 senior combination of Graham Newton and Boomer Jock also left their mark. Newton knocked down 18 points and Jock contributed nine points, including a dunk off a put-back in the first quarter that energized the crowd.
Jock and Jenkins both had 10 rebounds to lead the Links’ 49-33 edge on the boards.
“North Star’s length is tough to match up with, and both Graham and Boomer did a good job neutralizing it,” Noble said.
Lincoln High’s zone defense also made it difficult for North Star’s 6-5 junior standout Donovan Williams to get going. The Nebraska recruit finished with a team-high 17 points, but was just 3-of-16 from the field. He did hit 9 of 13 free throws.
Williams was one of four Navigators in double figures as Jared Lopez had 13 points, Josiah Allick netted 11 and Kwat Abdelkarim added 10.
“I thought we did a really good job defensively on them,” Noble said. “Getting that early lead allowed us to get in the zone, and that really helped us.”