Kimberly Blough 6:28 p.m., March 9
Lincoln shocked by Summit in state regional finals
Fourth-quarter Summit run keeps Hornets from state title game
LOS ANGELES – Ahead by eight through three quarters of the Division II Regional Finals on Saturday, top-seeded Lincoln looked like it was headed to a second-straight state title game. But in a four-minute stretch at the start of the fourth quarter against 10th-seeded Fontana Summit, the Hornets watched their state title hopes vanish at USC’s Galen Center.
“It’s pretty disappointing knowing that we put everything into it and we were dead set on winning another state championship,” said Lincoln guard Norman Powell. “To fall short of it hurts, but we left it all on the court and you can’t win them all.”
Summit (28-8) went on a 9-0 run in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to take a 57-56 lead, and the SkyHawks had a five-point lead over Lincoln with four minutes to play. The Hornets stayed close but couldn’t get the lead back down the stretch, as Powell missed two potential game-tying three-pointers with less than 20 seconds left and Summit went on to win 74-69.
“We stuck it out and tried to grind it out, but they came out on top,” Powell said.
Lincoln (31-2) scored the first five points of the game and led 22-12 after the first quarter. The Hornets led Summit by nine at halftime despite shooting only 3-of-10 from the free throw line in the first half.
“We haven’t shot this poorly in a game as a team this season,” said Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant.
In the third quarter, Summit played strong defense and outrebounded Lincoln to keep the Hornets from pulling away. The SkyHawks made it a five-point game with three minutes to play in the quarter and Lincoln led by eight headed into the fourth quarter.
“They controlled the ball well and made crisp passes,” Bryant said. “We were in the passing lanes and we pressured them in spots, but they handled the pressure well, ran their offense well and controlled tempo.”
Summit’s 14-1 run to start the fourth quarter swung the momentum away from Lincoln. Summit guard Montigo Alford scored the last nine points of the run – including three tough jump shots – and the SkyHawks shot 10-for-15 in the final quarter.
“Summit hit some tough shots in the fourth quarter,” Bryant said. “I felt like our defense was really good, but they hit some tough shots.”
For Lincoln, Rasean Simpson finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Powell scored a game-high 21 points, but shot only 1-for-10 from three-point range.
“I had trouble finding the range on the rims, because there was no backdrop. I tried to stick with and get my shot, but it wasn’t falling for me,” Powell said. “Some of them were contested, but I usually make those – tonight just wasn’t my night for shooting.”
Alford led Summit with 18 points, and was one of four SkyHawks in double figures. The win exacted revenge for the Southern Section semifinalists, who lost to Lincoln in the state playoffs last season.
“That loss last year really stuck with us and at the beginning of the year all we could talk about was how close we came to beating them,” said Summit forward Dorian Cason. “We knew we were going to have to play our best game we possibly could tonight.”
Lincoln’s second loss of the season leaves the Hornets one win short of a return trip to the state finals. The Hornets gained statewide and national acclaim this season, but ultimately fell short of their goal of back-to-back state titles.
“I’m proud of my guys. We’ve done above and beyond what anybody expected of us these last two years,” Bryant said. “For us to be state champs and get back to the southern regional finals is something special. We made our city and our community proud.”
Summit – 74 (12-16-20-26)
Alford 18, Arnold 14, Alexander 12, Lilley 8, Cason 6 (starters) Lewis 12, Taylor 2, Baker 2
Lincoln – 69 (22-15-19-13)
Powell 21, Simpson 15, Tyree Robinson 9, Tyrell Robinson 4, K. Smith 2 (starters) J. Smith 12, Byrd 4, Kirkland 2
Lincoln guard Norman Powell slumps in disappointment as Summit players celebrate their upset win over the Hornets in the regional finals