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Hornets bounce Cardinals to make third straight finals appearance

LINCOLN PARK – Lincoln and Hoover renewed their postseason rivalry on Tuesday night in the Division II semfinals, and in familiar fashion the Hornets prevailed. Second-seeded Lincoln took control of a close game in the second half to beat the third-seeded Cardinals 69-62 and advance to a third straight section title game.

“It feels great,” said Lincoln senior guard Jerry Cobb. “We’re going for another CIF, trying to get this three-peat.”

Lincoln (21-8) scored the first five points of the game and led 13-12 after a back and forth first quarter. Midway through the second quarter Hornets junior guard and leading scorer Tyree Robinson picked up his third foul and was forced to sit for the remainder of the first half, a break for visiting Hoover (28-5).

“Tyree is responsible for 20 to 30 percent of our offense, so not having him on the floor was tough,” said Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant. “The guys that came on the floor stepped up and played their roles like they were supposed to…and it worked out for us.”

The Hornets survived the six minutes without Tyree Robinson on the floor, and had a 30-27 lead at halftime. Hoover head coach Ollie Goulston said the Cardinals failed to capitalize during that stretch.

“We wanted to turn up our defensive pressure, but for some reason we just didn’t do it. We tried to but we were just out of snyc that way,” Goulston said. “That was a missed opportunity.”

Both teams traded runs at the start of the second half, and midway through the third quarter Lincoln scored 12 straight points to build a double-digit lead and take control of the game. The Hornets had a 12-point lead and momentum headed into the fourth quarter.

“Our coach got on us in the locker room and he said we were good – we just have to pick everything up and we were going to come away with the victory, and that’s what our team did,” Cobb said.

Lincoln appeared headed to a comfortable victory at the start of the fourth quarter but Hoover didn’t go quietly. The Cardinals scored the first eight points of the quarter to make it a four-point game with five minutes remaining.

“I didn’t think they were going to hit the threes they took – that was a surprise,” Bryant said. “They play hard and I knew they weren’t going to go away easily.”

Hoover played evenly with Lincoln in the final minutes, but couldn’t get closer than three points. With 31 seconds left and the Hornets leading by three, Cobb hauled in long pass over two Hoover defenders and drove to the hoop for an acrobatic layup that put Lincoln ahead by five and sealed the victory.

“Right when I got the ball I thought they were going to foul me, but he went right past me so I took it to the basket. Luckily I got that layup,” Cobb said. “The rim was just right there and I only had one defender on me.”

Four Lincoln players finished in double figures, led by junior forward Jeremiah Turner (19 points). Turner and Cobb combined to scored 15 of the Hornets’ 18 points in the final quarter.

“I just had to go to the basket and not worry about them fouling and be aggressive – they were going to foul and the refs weren’t going to call it, so I just had to keep being aggressive,” Cobb said.

Lincoln advances to Friday night’s Division II finals to face top-seeded La Costa Canyon (30-2). The Hornets are seeking a third consecutive section title.

“We need to play harder and make less turnovers. We have to come out and play perfect against La Costa Canyon,” Cobb said.

Senior guard Chris Jones scored a game-high 25 points to lead Hoover and freshman forward Jordan Alexander added 10. The loss ends a stretch of four straight finals appearances for the Cardinals.

“I don’t think we played our best, but we played our hardest,” Goulston said. “Lincoln is a good team and you have to play them at your best. Tonight the better team won.“

Lincoln – 69 (13-17-21-18)

Turner 19, Cobb 15, Tyree Robinson 14, Tyrell Robinson 12, Spates 8 (starters) Whipple 1

Hoover – 62 (12-15-12-23)

Jones 25, Holiday 9, Northard 6, Davis 5, Nolen-Webb 2 (starters) Alexander 10, Booker 5

Image

Pictured: Lincoln guard Jerry Cobb protects the ball from Hoover guard Jonathan Booker in the backcourt

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