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Hornets down Dons, move into first place in Western League

CARMEL VALLEY – Lincoln has been anxiously awaiting the return of Jerry Cobb for nearly the entire season – and so far the senior point guard has proven worth the wait. In his second game back on Friday night, Cobb provided the spark for the fourth-ranked Hornets as they knocked off third-ranked Cathedral Catholic 72-68 to close in on the Western League crown.

“This was a must-win game for us and we took that upon ourselves,” Cobb said.

Lincoln (16-8, 9-1 Western) led 17-10 after closing the first quarter with a 10-3 run. Hornets junior guard Tyree Robinson hit three three-pointers in the opening quarter – each off assists from Cobb.

“He gives us that extra person to take the pressure off the twins,” Lincoln head coach Jason Bryant said of Cobb. “He makes everybody around him better and that’s his role on the team.”

In the second quarter, Lincoln opened up an 11-point lead before foul trouble sidelined junior guard Tyrell Robinson. With Tyrell Robinson out, Cathedral Catholic (23-3, 9-2) turned up its pressure and got back in the game with a 15-3 run that led to a 37-34 halftime lead.

Neither team led by more than four points in a back and forth third quarter, and the game was tied at 51 entering the fourth quarter. Lincoln took control of the game at the start of the fourth quarter by holding Cathedral Catholic to two points in the first four minutes while building an eight-point lead.

“I reiterated the fact that it was basically 0-0 and we needed to go out and play defense like we did in the first quarter, and just be solid,” Bryant said. “They understood what was at stake, and they buckled down and played hard defense.”

Lincoln scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, a run sparked by a Tyree Robinson four-point play. Tyree Robinson’s three-pointer and free throw put the Hornets ahead 55-53 with 7:00 remaining.

“It was huge – that’s just Tyree,” Cobb said. “Tyree is known to hit big shots when we need it and he came through. It was an unbelievable shot.”

Cobb helped Lincoln stay in front of Cathedral Catholic down the stretch by scoring seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. With 55 seconds left Cobb scored in the lane to put Lincoln up 68-59, and it looked like the Hornets would win going away.

“My coach just told me to be aggressive,” Cobb said. “He said they couldn’t stop me going to the basket, so I took that into perspective and just took everything to the basket and stopped taking jump shots.”

Lincoln had a 70-63 lead with 16.5 seconds left when the game took a sour turn. Hornets junior forward Jeremiah Turner was fouled underneath the Cathedral Catholic basket, and after the whistle sent Dons junior guard Michael Rosenburg to the ground with an elbow that led to a short scuffle between players from both teams.

As a result of the scuffle, two technical fouls were called on Lincoln – one on Cobb for pushing Rosenburg and the other because Hornets players Marquel Jones, Steve Martin, and Royal Springs left the bench before being restrained by the Lincoln coaching staff. Both coaching staffs and game officials prevented the minor incident from escalating into a full-on fight.

“It was an intense game. Guys were cheapshotting on both sides of the ball and it came to a head those last couple seconds of the game,” Bryant said. “Tempers flared, and that’s what happens in a highly intensified game – it’s high school basketball at its finest.”

After Turner missed both his free throws, Cathedral Catholic had four technical free throws – and the opportunity to have the ball down by one possession if they all went in. But junior guard Nick Prunty made three of the four attempts and the Dons turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds pass, allowing Lincoln to hold on for a four-point win.

“It was two tough teams that can go far in the playoffs, and it was that type of an atmosphere tonight,” Bryant said.

With the victory, Lincoln moved into first place in the Western League and has the inside track to a league title entering the final week of the regular season. The win also avenged a 17-point home loss to Cathedral Catholic on Jan. 20 that snapped the Hornets’ 43-game San Diego winning streak.

“We were embarrassed – we had that long winning streak and the guys didn’t want to have that end,” Bryant said. “They wanted some vengeance and we were able to get it done.”

From the opening tip, Cobb’s impact for Lincoln was evident. The 6-foot-3 point guard that made his season debut at University City earlier in the week (after sitting out due to academic ineligibility) adds experience, speed, and playmaking ability to the Hornets’ backcourt.

“It feels great to be back – to be on the team, be on the court and support the team as I should,” Cobb said. “Everybody tells me it’s a blessing for me to be back. It was hard to watch all the games we lost when we shouldn’t have – games that I would have had an impact in if I played.

“It feels good to work hard in the classroom as well as on the court, and just get my priorities straight.”

Tyree Robinson led Lincoln with a game-high 33 points – including six three-pointers – and Turner finished with 15. The Hornets appear to be shaping into form with the Division II playoffs on the horizon.

“We have to learn to play like winners,” Bryant said. “I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’re headed in that direction and once we understand that, we can go far in the playoffs.”

Senior forward Brendan Reh scored 19 points to lead Cathedral Catholic and Prunty added 15. The Dons allowed a season-high 72 points in the defeat – their second loss of the week.

Lincoln – 72 (17-17-17-21)

Tyree Robinson 33, Cobb 17, Turner 15, Tyrell Robinson 5, Spates 0 (starters) Melifonwu 2

Cathedral Catholic – 68 (10-27-14-17)

Reh 19, Prunty 15, Rosenburg 7, Williams 6, Michel 6 (starters) Holland 8, Federico 7


Pictured: Cathedral Catholic guard Michael Rosenburg goes up for a shot between three Lincoln defenders

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