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LINCOLN PARK – In its state tournament debut, top-seeded Lincoln took the first step towards defending its Division II crown. Thursday night at home, the Hornets thumped eighth-seeded Clovis North 71-49 in the second round of the CIF State Southern California Regionals.

“This is a good way to start off our state run,” said Lincoln guard Norman Powell.

Lincoln (30-1) scored the first five points of the game and led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter. It was apparent in the game’s opening minutes that Clovis North (24-12) would have problems against the Hornets’ full court pressure.

“When they started bobbling the ball against our trap and starting making lazy passes, we knew that they weren’t going to be able to match up with our pressure for the whole game,” Powell said.

In the second quarter, Lincoln continued to build its lead. By halftime the Hornets led Clovis North 42-24.

“The beginning was kind of shaky and back and forth,” Powell said. “Our defense didn’t really kick in until the second half, and it was a closer game than we expected coming into the second quarter and the half.”

Lincoln’s defense prevented Clovis North from making it close in the second half. The Hornets held the Broncos to eight points in the third quarter, making up for a somewhat sluggish offensive period.

“We have a lot of things that we can do to win games, and luckily today our defense held us down,” said Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant. “That’s how we had to get the win.”

In the fourth quarter, Lincoln led by as much as 30 on its way to a comfortable 22-point victory. The Hornets never trailed against Clovis North.

“We got a bye and we didn’t know who we would play, so we knew we had to come out here and play even harder,” Powell said.

Powell led Lincoln with a game-high 24 points, and was one of three Hornets in double figures. Lincoln hosts fourth-seeded Cerritos Gahr (26-7) on Saturday in the Southern California Regional Semifinals.

“It’s tough and we know that we have a bull’s eye on our back,” Bryant said. “Everybody wants to beat us, but the boys are ready for that challenge – bring it on.”

For Clovis North, forward Ethan Lenox scored 18 points and was the team’s only player in double figures. The Broncos beat Compton in the first round of the playoffs.

Lincoln – 71 (21-21-15-14)

Powell 24, Simpson 11, Tyrell Robinson 10, Tyree Robinson 5, K. Smith 3 (starters) Cobb 8, J. Smith 3, Byrd 2, Nnamani 2, Martin 2, Kirkland 1

Clovis North – 49 (10-14-8-17)

Lenox 18, Duckett 7, Huffman 6, Tesmer 3, Boman 2 (starters) Bijev 8, Wells 4, Carmen 1

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Lincoln guard Norman Powell pulls up for a jumper between three Clovis North defenders

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