LINCOLN – It was all Lincoln High all the time on Monday night at the Lions’ Den.
Lincoln seized control midway through the first half and never looked back in an eventual 56-41 triumph over Shea in the Division II opener for both schools. The Lions closed the opening half on a game-turning 20-4 run that saw Kent Crooks’ team go from down 12-7 to up 27-16 at recess.
Matt Lague led Lincoln with 14 points while Ryan Musket added 12 points. In short, though, Crooks could have said something complimentary to say about the eight-man rotation he utilized as every Lion player made an impact in some way or another.
“You can’t say enough about Matt Sorkin and the defense he played on (Shea’s) Malik Moody,” said Crooks. “We have a lot of interchangeable parts and we count on every single one of them. You have to have that competition in practice where kids push one another. Ten guys all pushing one another is how you get it done.”
Moody paced the Raiders with 15 points, five of which came after the outcome had long been decided. Austin Silva fought his way through foul trouble in the first half to score 11 of his 12 points in the second half. No other Raider, however, managed more than seven points.
A lack of offense clearly hindered Shea on Monday. After knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to start the game, the Raiders sunk to the tune of 4-of-14 shooting in the opening half, which ended with Matt Pita’s club making more shots from the perimeter (three) than from inside the 3-point stripe (one).
The Raiders went 8:32 without recording a field goal – an empty stretch that started with Joh’lon Hazard burying a triple at 4:30 of the first half and ended when Moody knocked down a jumper at 10:48 of the second.
“You’ve got to make field goals,” said Pita matter-of-factly. “It was 6-0 (Shea) for a brief moment, then the wheels fell off the bus.”
Lincoln started the game with the intention of getting inside, but missed shots from close range combined Shea’s 2-3 zone resulted in the Lions seeking other ways to score. Lincoln then became a team that lived on the perimeter, delivering quick passes that resulted in Shea being a step slow in rotating over. The results were bountiful as Mike Akanji (nine points) and Mennucci delivered back-to-back three’s to put Lincoln up 18-12. The Lions then went back inside, as Lague scored on consecutive possessions to give the home team its first double digit lead of the game, 27-16.
“We got some good perimeter looks, which in turn opened up some other things for us,” said Crooks.
The Lions left the door slightly open to begin the second half, turning the ball over on four of their first five possessions. The Raiders, however, could not make any headway, getting as close as 29-21 after two Silva free throws at 13:31.
“This is somewhat of a stunner because I highly regard Shea,” said Crooks. “This is a big win for us.”
SHEA (41): Austin Silva 3 6-8 12, Jordy Brito 1 4-4 7, Malik Moody 4 6-9 15, Eli Itkin 0 1-2 1, Zach DePina 0 0-2 0, Harel Monteiro 1 0-2 2, Joh’lon Hazard 1 1-2 4. Totals: 10 18-29 41.
LINCOLN (56): Matt Sorkin 2 1-3 6, Anthony Palombo 0 0-0 0, Matt Lague 7 0-2 14, Matt Mennucci 3 0-0 8, Ryan Musket 5 2-3 12, Mike Akanji 5 4-4 9, Devante Barbosa 2 0-0 4, Andrew Juckett 1 1-2 3. Totals: 22 8-14 56.
Halftime: L 27-16.
Three-point field goals: S 3 (Jordy Brito, Malik Moody, Joh’lon Hazard); L 4 (Matt Mennucci 2, Matt Sorkin, Mike Akanji).