The Abraham Lincoln boys’ basketball team found itself down for the first time against South Shore with six minutes left in the game, but he Railsplitters never trailed again thanks to the play of Seton Hall commit Isaiah Whitehead.
Whitehead scored 15 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to propel Lincoln to a 70–54 victory in front of a packed house at South Shore on Sunday. The Railsplitters (10–1), ranked No. 21 in the country by USA Today, closed the game on a 26–9 run to stay unbeaten in the Public School Athletic League Brooklyn AA division.
“After we went down we tried to get defense stops,” said Lincoln forward —and fellow Seton Hall commit — Desi Rodriguez. “Isaiah had the hot hand so we had to feed him.”
Lincoln’s strategy worked. When his team fell behind, Whitehead immediately responded with a 3-pointer, then two mid-range buckets and an assist. He almost single-handedly fueled a 9–2 run that would give his team a lead they would never relinquish.
The Lincoln defense had pressure on them all afternoon as they were forced to hold off a relentless South Shore offense that wouldn’t quit. After scoring only eight points in the first quarter, the Vikings ended the half on a 19–7 run, bringing the deficit to only three points at 31–28.
Headed into the fourth quarter, South Shore once again found themselves down 44–40, but with six minutes remaining in the game, two Doudmy St. Hilaire free throws gave the Vikings a 45–44 lead that they simply could not hold.
“I don’t think we played up to our full capabilities,” said Vikings coach Mike Beckles of his team’s up-and-down performance. “We kept the game close, we just didn’t finish. Playing against a team like that, you have to play a full four quarters. We started slow and ended poorly.”
Complementing the firepower of Whitehead was Lincoln point guard Anthony Williams, who amassed 17 points and was 8 of 11 on the free throw line. At the other end, South Shore (8–4) missed 18 free throws in the game, something Beckles knows they must improve on.
“You have to keep your composure in any big game,” Beckles said. “I thought we were prepared, but it might have been a little overwhelming at times, and that contributed to all those misses.”
For Lincoln and Rodriguez, the game was another stepping stone in its city title defense season, and the lessons learned from the victory will carry over to their next game.
“We want to focus on executing better throughout and communicating more on defense,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll go work on that in practice and keep grinding away.”