BOONVILLE -- It's been a similar story for Lincoln's boys all season, playing two or three solid quarters while one bad period proves to be the difference. The recurring tale continued on Friday.
After being in control for over a half, the lead slipped away from the Alices late in the third quarter, and Boonville was barely tested in the final period while pulling away for a 72-61 Big Eight Conference victory.
Ethan Bushey notched a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds for the Alices (8-12, 2-4 Big Eight), who have dropped eight of their last 10. Isaac Lane added 18 points, while Brody Ruggles scored 14 with six assists. Leading scorer Hunter Hopwood was held scoreless for the second consecutive game.
For the Pioneers (3-14, 2-4), who won their second in a row, Rylan Hicks poured in 24 points, Ben Meier had 18 and Ryan Smith 10.
The 72 points for Boonville equalled a season-high, while it was just the fourth Lincoln opponent to put up 70 points.
While the Alices led most of the first half, coach Steve Brett wasn't pleased with his team's play throughout the contest.
"I don't know of any time during the game where we had five guys on the floor who were on the same page," he said. "We talk about and work on things in practice, and it doesn't carry over to the game. I don't understand it. I'm pretty disappointed in our effort. We didn't get any breaks or any whistles, but you still have to keep playing, and we don't do a good job of that.
"We didn't follow the game plan. We struggled offensively to get something going. They changed defenses on us, and we didn't recognize it. Here we are, 19 games into the season and we still don't have guys on the same page."
The Alices were in command until Boonville tied it, 38-38, late in the third, and the Pioneers finished strong to take a 44-41 lead after three. The teams traded buckets for almost half of the final stanza, but it was a 52-49 Boonville lead when Hunter Bruce was fouled on a 3-point shot. He netted all three free ones, and the margin never got any closer.
The Pioneers made their first eight free throws of the fourth quarter and finished the period 14-of-16. Hicks scored 16 in the second half, including 6-of-6 from the line.
"Hicks penetrated on us all night, and we knew Meier could shoot (three made 3-pointers)," Brett said. "Bushey and Lane did all right (offensively), but Bushey still gets lost at times on defense. He does some good things, but he's one that's not on the same page as everyone else.
"It's all in (Hopwood's) head. He says he can't hit, and when you think like that, you're not going to hit. You have to think the next one is going in. He's lost his confidence."
Lane scored eight in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers, to help Lincoln to a 21-17 lead. The margin was as big as nine in the second period, but Boonville battled to get back within 32-28 by halftime. Bushey scored 14 in the first half.
The Pioneers took the junior varsity game, 50-48. E Smith buried five 3-pointers, including three in the final stanza, to finish with 18 points for Lincoln (8-11), and Payton Curry scored nine.
The Alices visit Evansville Memorial at 6:30 p.m. next Friday.