Lincoln returns to full strength Saturday
Murphy's law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Unfortunately for Lincoln's boys basketball team, it's an adage that can aptly describe its season to this point.
Undeterred, the Alices (1-12) take the court this weekend in an attempt to flip the script. Lincoln is short-handed again Friday when it hosts Eastern Greene (10-8) for a 6 p.m. start. The full roster should be available Saturday when Mount Vernon (6-7) visits Alice Arena for Lincoln's homecoming with a 6:30 p.m. junior varsity tip. Lincoln (0-6 conference) jumps back in to Southern Indiana Athletic Conference play next Tuesday when it entertains Evansville North (11-6, 4-1) at 6:30 p.m.
The Alices found out last Thursday that seven of their nine varsity players had to quarantine due to coming in close contact with an opponent testing positive for COVID-19. Rather than cancel that night's game at Washington, as dates are running out to try and reschedule, Lincoln relied on freshmen and junior varsity to fill out the JV and varsity rosters.
Not surprisingly, the Hatchets handed the Alices an 85-42 defeat, but just playing the game was another example of the resiliency Lincoln's shown this year.
It started when the football players, which account for about 80 percent of the basketball roster, were forced to quarantine for close-contact tracing during preseason practice. The team is currently on its third quarantine, and that's not counting several players who have had to individually isolate and miss time.
Add to that the snow this week, which has prevented Lincoln's current youth movement from getting more practice time. Alices coach Jordan Myers noted that normally at this point in the season, teams have about 60-65 practices in. Lincoln has had 37 practices, and only six have featured the entire roster.
“We got as much in as we possibly could in those 2 ½ hours (Monday),” Myers said of his team's one practice this week. “The effort and intensity are there. They're competing, but we haven't had a lot of time. That's kind of a microcosm of this season.
“The boys competed (at Washington). They played hard. I'm not saying the older kids don't compete, but for our young guys to be put in that situation like that where pretty much everything is stacked against them, they did a good job and didn't back down from anything that was thrown at us.”
The biggest plus for Lincoln against the Hatchets last week was 5-8 freshman Xander Hunt's 16-point performance, which included four 3-pointers. Myers wasn't sure who is starting Friday, but said he's leaning to the same group that started at Washington. The varsity regulars who started are 6-4 senior Cooper Thorne (2.7) and 6-0 junior Coleton Pfoff. Hunt, 5-10 sophomore Zach Steffey (eight points at Washington) and 5-7 junior Elijah Hovland fill out the lineup.
The inexperienced crew may have a tough time matching up with the size of Eastern Greene. The Thunderbirds are led by 6-6 junior Bryan Rippy and lengthy senior guards 6-4 Sam Rees, 6-3 Brandon Myers and 6-6 Bryson Creager. They dropped a 47-40 decision at North Knox in mid-December but more recently defeated South Knox, 44-43, and Linton, 62-52, in consecutive games, though the Miners were without top scorer Lincoln Hale.
Eastern beat Lincoln in their last meeting, 61-57, in the 2016 Alices' holiday tournament.
“They're big and physical, and they have a lot of kids who can shoot it. They're a solid 2A team,” Myers said. “We'll try to give our guys some nuggets on them, tendencies and things they can take away, but when you've had to deal with the stuff we've had to deal with, your mostly worried about yourself. We've hardly had any time in the gym, and now we have to try to get as much corrected on our end as we possibly can. We have to focus on ourselves.”
The Alices also have some size to deal with on Saturday, though Lincoln is expected to have everyone back against Mount Vernon as Friday is the 14th and final day of the quarantine. The Wildcats are led by 6-7 senior Noah Gordon (17.2 points per game), a transfer from Indianapolis Pike. Their other double-figure scorer is 6-5 junior Kaleb Dosher (12.2).
“We'll probably have an in-depth practice Saturday morning and go close to full speed,” Myers said of getting his returning players ready. “They want to be back in the gym and try to fix as much as we can in the hour, hour and a half we have to practice. They keep coming back, and they want to get better. I just feel bad because they haven't had the opportunity to put that time in.
“Mount Vernon is huge. The transfer from Indy is having a nice year, and they have a freshman point guard (6-1 Nicot Burnett) who's quick and athletic. Their record speaks for how improved they are (two wins last season). It's a tall task for those guys who haven't practiced in two weeks, but my guys will fight and compete. That's why I love them. They're going to give me everything they can.”
Evansville North, which won the championship in the Forest Park holiday tournament, has had a bit of an up-and-down season, but the Huskies are currently on an upswing after beating Class 3A No. 3 Evansville Bosse, 83-68, Tuesday. They have three double-figure scorers, 6-4 senior Chandler Moore (16.9), 6-1 junior Ryan Caddell (16.0) and 6-3 junior Cameron Gelhausen (10.2).
Lincoln athletic director Mike Quinn said the Alices plan to open the gym to fans for 50 percent capacity, but added that COVID-19 guidelines must be followed. Among those are that masks should be worn at all times, social distancing from other families, and that all members, especially small children, should be with their families at all times.
Saturday's game features a homecoming court along with the crowning of a king and queen.
Evansville Mater Dei|3-3|9-7
Last Thursday's results
Washington 85, Lincoln 42
Barr-Reeve 56, Jasper 54
Castle 62, Bosse 45
Harrison 61, Central 56
Reitz 68, Memorial 62
Forest Park 64, Mater Dei 61
Southridge 77, North 63
Last Saturday's games
Bedford North Lawrence 53, Memorial 51
Bloomington North 79, North 59
Castle 60, Heritage Hills 48
Jasper 47, Boonville 37
South Knox 38, Reitz 36
Castle 64, Central 60
Mater Dei 50, Jasper 49
North 83, Bosse 68
Henderson County, Ky., at Bosse
Reitz at Harrison
Eastern Greene at Lincoln
Bosse at Mater Dei
Memorial at North Posey
North at Central
Jasper at Castle
Mount Vernon at Lincoln
Next Tuesday's game
North at Lincoln
Castle at Harrison
Central at Memorial
Mount Vernon at Mater Dei