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In just three years since the school re-opened, Lincoln’s boys basketball program is continuing its hardwood tradition of the previous decades. The Hornets face Mountain View Saint Francis in the Division II state finals Friday night at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

“We’re working to bring the whole thing home and give us the second state title,” said Lincoln forward Victor Dean. “It feels really good, like we’re bringing the community together.”

The 2009-2010 Hornets are starting a new hoops tradition at the end of a decade in which their school was closed for five years. But it isn’t an entirely new thing.

“It’s a little newer but I do feel part of that tradition, too,” Dean said.

This year’s Lincoln team is keenly aware of Hornets hoops history. In warmups before the Division II section title game against Hoover, Lincoln players wore green T-shirts that read “The Legacy Continues” with section and state banners on the back.

“It was trying to bring back all the old alumni and us together, just saying that we’re bringing back all the old history and just try and keep everything alive,” Dean said.

The shirts were Hornets coach Jason Bryant’s idea. Bryant came to Lincoln in 2007 from Van Nuys High and one of the first things he noticed about the Hornets’ new digs was that it was missing the school’s championship banners.

“That was a major issue with the community, having the banners up and having the kids understand the sense of history that is here at the school,” Bryant said. “It just dawned on me to print some T-shirts with the banners on the back to make sure our players saw what the school had accomplished and have that be a sense of motivation for them.”

After winning their first section title since 1996, there is little doubt that the basketball legacy will continue at Lincoln. They also might need some new shirts.

“After all this success, we feel like those T-shirts are basically done with because we got a CIF and we’re making a run at state,” Bryant said. “We have to add another banner to that shirt and possibly print some new shirts. It’s a good thing.”

For Dean, the connection to Lincoln’s past goes beyond simply wearing the green and white. His father, Victor Dean Sr., played for the Hornets in the early 90s on teams that were a part of an unprecedented run of nine straight section titles from 1988-1996.

“He talks about the old teams a lot and every now and then we see some of the alumni come up here, so that’s pretty cool,” Dean said.

Despite having a 28-2 record and being the first San Diego Section team to advance to the Division II state finals, Lincoln still hasn’t met their goal from the beginning of the season. That goal won’t be accomplished unless the Hornets bring home their first state title since 1994.

“This year we were all just focused and this is where we ended up,” Dean said. “Everybody has got their head on straight and we’re all playing towards the same goal.”

No matter what happens when they take the floor in Bakersfield on Friday, Lincoln is back as a basketball power. And the Hornets plan on keeping it that way for years to come.

“When a team starts winning, the people coming up behind them want to keep the same tradition, so they keep playing harder and it just keeps adding up,” Dean said. “I feel like we’re starting a trend.”

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