Impressive start for LHS hoop team

Impressive start for LHS hoop team

Lincoln senior tri-captain Tyler McNulty gets ready to toss in a layup over the reach of a Tolman defender during the second half of last Friday night’s consolation game of the 46th annual Roadshow Holiday Classic. McNulty turned in a strong defensive game to help his team produce a 69-63 victory. The Lions return to Division III action next Monday night with a game in Bristol against Mount Hope. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Div. III Lions defeats another D-II opponent, stops Tolman in Roadshow consolation game

LINCOLN – On paper, the 5-1 mark in December looks pretty good. But what makes the Lincoln High boys’ basketball team’s strong start to its season an impressive one is who some of those wins have come against.

Last Friday night, in the consolation game of the 46th annual Roadshow Holiday Classic at the Clippers’ Wellness Center, the Division III Lions posted a 69-63 triumph over Division II Tolman that raised Lincoln’s record against D-II teams to 3-0.

While it’s been a number of years since the Lions ended the first month of their season with five victories, it’s also an excellent opening chapter to what the Lions, with 10 seniors on its roster, hopes will kick off a storybook season that runs deep into March.

“We’ll take any ‘W’ that we can get,” Lincoln head coach Kent Crooks said last Friday. “We’re all about just improving everyday. But (last Friday’s win) is nothing but a positive experience for us. It’s great to close out 2018 this way.”

Last week’s tournament was a roller coaster for the Lions, who less than 24 hours earlier, suffered their first loss of the season, a 42-28 defeat to D-I Cumberland that saw the Lions mightily struggle offensively and the Clippers roll into the half with a 24-8 command.

“We had a great defensive gameplan,” said Crooks. “Holding Cumberland to 42 points was no easy task, but I just never expected us not to be able to put the ball in the ocean.”

But the following night, the Lions came alive offensively and led through most of their game with the Tigers. They headed into the half with a 31-26 lead and led by as many as 10 (43-33) with 4½ minutes to play, but needed to hold off a comeback by the Tigers that saw them cut their deficit to a basket twice with two minutes to play, but come no closer to the Lions.

Junior guard Cody Anter sank five three-pointers en route to a team-high 21 points, and adding 14 each were senior guard and tri-captain Brett Bessette, who was named to the Jim Marsland All-Tournament squad, and junior point guard Josh Jahnz.

“To come out today and score 41 more points than we did yesterday was huge,” added Crooks. “Everybody deserves credit. Cody Anter hit great shots, Brett Bessette played well, and (senior guard and tri-captain) Tyler McNulty did a great job defensively on (Tolman scoring threat Justin) Carvalho. And we were 15-for-17 from the free-throw line.”

Anter and Jahnz are the top 11th-graders on a senior-dominated team that also has forward Declan Quinn, tri-captain Marty Gaughan, and center Aaron DeSousa back from last winter’s team that went 9-7 in league play for the second straight season. Quinn, Jahnz, Anter, and McNulty also received All-Division honors.

Those players performed key roles in the Lions’ 4-0 start, which included victories over a pair of D-II private schools – a 66-59 win at the Prout School on Dec. 10 and a 53-47 triumph at home over Moses Brown on Dec. 14 – and continued with double-digit D-III victories over Rogers (62-48 on Dec. 18) and Mount Saint Charles (60-49 on Dec. 21).

The Lions will get back to business in the league next week with three games: next Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game at Mount Hope, the following night’s 7 p.m. contest at home against Scituate, and a 7 p.m. crosstown clash on Friday, Jan. 11, at Davies.

“There are a lot of good teams in our division this season,” added Crooks. “There’s Ponaganset and North Smithfield; Jeff Doucette does a great job at Central Falls, and Henry (Coleman) is also doing a great job at Mount (Saint Charles) – we just had a tough game against them.”

“Mount Hope, with the (Jalen) Kopecky kid, is tough, and Kevin Payette does a great job at Blackstone Valley Prep,” Crooks continued. “I read that he was flying under the radar, but he’s not flying under the radar with me. We’re talking nobody for granted. We’ll see how it plays out, but in this division, you have to stay humble.”

Senior tri-captain Brett Bessette, who was selected to the Jim Marsland All-Tournament team, scored 14 points to help the Lions defeat Tolman in last Friday night’s consolation game.
Junior point guard Josh Jahnz had 14 points to help the Lions defeat Tolman last Friday night at Cumberland High School’s Wellness Center. The Division III Lions ended December with a 5-1 record that includes a 3-0 mark against D-II teams.