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Still perfect: Lincoln fends off Jefferson to retain spotless season

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They’re still on track.

Lincoln’s boys basketball team kept its perfect record intact on Dec. 22, defeating Jefferson 88–71 in a rematch of last year’s Public Schools Athletic League championship game.

This year, however, the Railsplitters walked away with the victory and — more importantly — a big-time boost of early-season confidence.

“Last year we took a beating by this team at the Garden, but tonight was a good win,” Lincoln coach Dwayne Morton said. “Our whole team played well tonight.”

Lincoln (6–0) dominated on the boards throughout the matchup, able to grab second-chance points and limit the Orange Wave to one-and-done possessions. As a team, the Railsplitters hauled in 42 rebounds — 10 more than Jefferson posted — including a whopping 13 on the offensive glass. KeClejuan Ferguson led the rebounding charge, racking up 14 boards, 22 points, and two assists for good measure.

Michael Reid was another significant contributor for Lincoln. The senior shooting guard matched Ferguson’s 22 points, including four shots from behind the arc. In addition to his solid scoring night, Reid also notched six rebounds and dished out four assists.

Donald Flores rounded out the Railsplitt­ers’ offensive effort, finishing with 21 points and six assists. The senior point guard knew this was a major matchup and was determined to settle into a leadership role on the court — particularly against a league rival.

“As the player on the team with the most experience, it’s my job to lift [teammates’] spirits up on and off the court,” Flores said. “My team is very young, so making sure my guys keep their heads up is very important to me.”

Jefferson (5–1) held its own during the first half of the game, matching the Railsplitters early momentum, but the Orange Wave struggled to maintain its effort down the stretch. Lincoln gave up just 11 points in the third quarter, silencing the crowd at Jefferson and taking a lead it would not surrender.

The Railsplitters squad knew it would have to set the game’s tone from the opening whistle, and it didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Pacers star (and former Lincoln great) Lance Stephenson took in the game as well.

“It’s always great to come back and show your love,” Stephenson said. “And it gives the younger kids a boost, and makes them feel special.”

Jefferson put three players in double digits — led by Khlail Rhodes’ team-best 22 points — but the Orange Wave couldn’t overcome third-quarter miscues in the team’s first loss of the year.

The two squads will face off once more during the regular season — on Feb. 1 — but for now, the Railsplitters are simply looking to stay perfect. Lincoln is determined to build off the victory, certain the squad’s jam-packed roster is primed for another deep postseason run.

“This was big for our team,” Morton said. “Everyone contributed for us, which means a great deal and we can use that.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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