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Hornets advance to semis with win over two-time defending state champs

DEL MAR HEIGHTS – Working to establish itself as a state power, Lincoln took a big step on Tuesday in the ESPN iScore Holiday Classic. The Hornets beat two-time defending state champion Los Angeles Westchester 62-56 in the National Division quarterfinals at Torrey Pines High.

“It means a lot to be able to show that San Diego has good basketball players and good basketball programs and that we can match L.A. and everybody around the country,” said Lincoln guard Norman Powell.

The top-ranked team in San Diego, Lincoln (10-0) battled nerves early against Westchester. The Hornets trailed the Comets 10-3 midway through the first quarter, looking out or sorts on both ends of the floor.

“I think that we had a little bit of jitters,” said Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant. “The mystique of Westchester kind of got to us in the first six or seven minutes of the first quarter.”

After a timeout, Lincoln settled down and got back into rhythm. The Hornets trailed 14-12 at the end of the first quarter after turning up the intensity.

“We had to come out and match their toughness; they’re Westchester and they’re used to this,” Powell said. “We had to show them that we were not about to be bullied or pushed around.”

Lincoln went on a 10-0 run at the beginning of the second quarter and led by three at halftime. Looking more comfortable in the third quarter, the Hornets scored the first eight points of the second half and opened up a 14-point lead midway through the quarter.

“Once we settled down I think we were fine,” Bryant said.

Powell hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter to give Lincoln a 53-42 lead after Weschester (9-3) closed the gap to eight points. In the fourth quarter the Comets slowly chipped away at the Hornets’ lead, eventually pulling to within two, 58-56, on a Robert Gsellman three-pointer with 3:41 left.

“These games are nerveracking,” Bryant said. “Every team is a top level team and it’s going to be a battle every time we come out.”

Both teams went scoreless over the next three minutes until Powell drove to the hoop and converted a three-point play to make it 61-56. Powell punctuated Lincoln’s win by finishing an alley oop off the backboard from teammate Tyree Robinson in the game’s closing seconds.

“I screamed as loud as I could to throw it off the backboard because I saw No. 24 trying to catch up to Tyree and foul him,” Powell said. “He threw it and I went up and got it.”

Powell led all scorers with 19 points, and was one of three Lincoln players in double figures. The UCLA-bound senior shot 7-for-11 from the field and delivered a handful of clutch shots in the second half.

“I’ve been going through a shooting slump, but I believed that my shot was going to come and I was going to get buckets and that’s what I did,” Powell said.

Lincoln advances to the National Division semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. where they will meet Long Beach Poly (10-0). Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (7-1) and St. Edward (Ohio) (5-1) play in the other semifinal.

“For us to have an opportunity to go to the semifinals and play the No. 1 team in California to get to the finals, you can’t ask for any more than that,” Bryant said.

Gsellman led Westchester with 17 points. The Comets scored 14 points exactly in each quarter. Trevone Williams (11 points) and Keywhon Powns (10) also had double figures for the Comets.

Lincoln – 62 (12-19-22-9)

Powell 19, Tyrell Robinson 15, Tyree Robinson 10, Kevin Smith 3, Simpson 0 (starters) Josh Smith 7, Cobb 5, Byrd 4

Westchester – 56 (14-14-14-14)

Gsellman 17, Williams 11, Powns 10, Wilson 1, Evans 1 (starters) Leverette 6, Grant 5, Romano 5

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Best of luck to the Hornets! :)

Dec. 29, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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