Chad Deal 6:58 p.m., May 21
Hornets shut down Redskins, advance to regional semifinals
LINCOLN PARK – In its final home game of the season, Lincoln delivered a dominant performance. Saturday night, the third-seeded Hornets relied on stellar defense and never trailed in 69-49 win over 11th-seeded Tulare Union in the second round of the Division II state playoffs.
“We’ve been working hard all week just to play hard defense, and that’s just what we did,” said Lincoln junior guard Tyree Robinson. “That was a great defensive team effort.”
From the opening tip, Lincoln (23-9) took immediate control. The Hornets won the jump ball and Tyree Robinson hit a three-pointer on the first possession as part of an 8-0 run to start the game.
“They just left me wide open. I’ve never been that wide open since I started playing basketball,” Tyree Robinson said. “It was a nice shot and it got us going early.”
Tulare Union (29-6) answered Lincoln’s run with outside shooting, and the Hornets led 12-10 after the first quarter. Lincoln started the second quarter with a 12-2 run, and built a 31-17 lead by halftime after a stellar defensive quarter.
“It was just playing aggressive. The refs were letting us play tonight – they weren’t calling hand checks or anything,” Tyree Robinson said. “We were just moving our feet and avoiding silly fouls.”
In the second half Lincoln never had less than an 11-point lead, and remained in control to roll to a comfortable victory. In the closing minutes of the game, senior guard Jerry Cobb punctuated the Hornets’ 20-point win with a one-handed dunk.
“No more letdowns – we’re trying to get back to state,” Tyree Robinson said. “We’re just going to keep working harder and harder and keep going – we’re going to get this.”
Tyree Robinson led Lincoln with a game-high 32 points, and finished as one of three Hornets in double figures along with Cobb (15 points) and junior guard Tyrell Robinson (12). Tyree Robinson hit six three-pointers in the game and scored 13 points in the final quarter to help Lincoln pull away.
“I just feel like taking big shots and I think I’m ready for that stage,” Tyree Robinson said. “It’s my time to step up, and I’m ready.”
From the start of the game Lincoln set the tone defensively with its full-court pressure, and the Hornets stifled the Redskins throughout the game with man-to-man defense. Lincoln held the Central Section Division II runner-up to its third-lowest point total of the season by limiting its two leading scorers – 6-foot-2 senior guard William Stallworth and 6-foot-6 junior forward Keonta Vernon.
“Those two guys are responsible for about 95 percent of their offense. We saw them on film, we scouted them and we tailored our game plan to stopping those two guys,” said Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant. “We’re hot defensively right now.”
Stallworth scored 20 points to lead Tulare Union and Vernon finished with 10. Lincoln kept Stallworth, recently named State Grid-Hoop Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports for the second straight season, in check by rotating the defensive assignment between the Robinson twins and Cobb throughout the game.
“We know he can put up big numbers and we know he had the green light,” Tyree Robinson said. “Our focus was to not let him get comfortable. I wanted to let him know I was always going to be there.”
Lincoln advances to face third-seeded Lakewood Mayfair (27-5) in the Division II Southern California Regional Semifinals on Tuesday night. Since losing to La Costa Canyon in the section finals, Lincoln has rolled past its first two state playoff opponents and is halfway towards its goal of a state title.
“It was a big time motivator,” Bryant said. “Our guys were really up for that game, but we didn’t play our best basketball. We took it hard, but we were able to bounce back and everything is upward now.”
Lincoln – 69 (12-19-16-22)
Tyree Robinson 32, Cobb 15, Tyrell Robinson 12, Spates 2, Turner 2 (starters) Jones 5, Mondy 1
Tulare Union – 49 (10-7-17-15)
Stallworth 20, Fernandes 11, Vernon 10, Stephens 6, Reyes 0 (starters) Brown 2
Pictured: Lincoln guard Tyree Robinson streaks to the basket against Tulare Union in the second round of the Division II state playoffs