NYCHoops #1 ranked Lincoln won their third straight PSAL championship on Sunday before a sparse but police-filled crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, beating #4 ranked Boys & Girls handily by a score of 88-57.
Lincoln set the tone early, as they were able to grab a quick 9-2 lead thanks to the Coney Island school's pressure defense. A Lance Stephenson pull u jump shot with 3:35 left in the first quarter gave Lincoln a 12-7 lead. The Railsplitter guards continued getting into the lane at will and was able to set up their dynamic front court of Justin Greene and James Padgett for easy buckets.
The Railsplitters held total control of the PSAL title game, as they grabbed a 23-9 lead heading into the second quarter.
With the junior phenom Stephenson catching fire, Lincoln punished Boys & Girls from the perimeter as well as from inside the paint. With 6:38 to go in the first half, a Lance Stephenson midrange jump shot gave Lincoln a comfortable 27-9 lead. With Lincoln taking much of the life out of the Kangaroos with their big first quarter run, Coach Ruth Lovelace's squad played with little confidence and energy.
A tip-in from senior big-man Justin Greene ballooned the Lincoln lead to 40-19 with 15 seconds left in the half, as they were able to finish their strong first 16 minutes of play with a 42-21 lead heading into the locker-room. Lance Stephenson led all scorers in the first half with 17 points while also pulling down 7 rebounds for the Railsplitters in their dominating half, and senior guard Vincent Council chipped in with 10 points. Brandon Romain led Boys & Girls with 5 points in the opening half.
As the second half began, Lincoln continued to impose their size and strength on Boys & Girls, as they continued to pile onto their lead. A three-pointer from the junior Stephenson with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter increased the Lincoln lead to 57-26. The Railsplitters continued to dictate the tempo and prevent the Kangaroos from making any kind of a come back bid.
With the game well in hand, Lincoln coach, Dwayne Morton soon decided to put in his reserves so that they could get a taste of playing in "The Worlds Most Famous Arena." Morton's squad held a 69-40 lead, as they were able to driving in cruise control heading into the fourth and final quarter.
The already small crowd inside "the Garden," only got smaller, as spectators began leaving early with Lincoln well in control of the match and the bench reserves playing a bulk of the minutes in the fourth quarter. The Railsplitters began their celebration early, as they were able to secure their third straight PSAL championship with an 88-57 victory. The 6'6" Stephenson led all scorers with 27 points while grabbing 8 boards and dishing out 4 assists in the blowout. Sharp-shooting guard Clayton Sterling led the Kangaroos in their losing effort with 14 points.
Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton came away impressed with another stellar effort by his blue-chip junior Lance Stephenson. "He felt like a pro today," said Morton following his squad's victory. Morton also added that he felt playing on the big court of Madison Square Garden helped them, because it gave his athletic guards such as Stephenson more room to work off the dribble.
A clearly disappointed Ruth Lovelace didn't feel like her team's effort from the opening tip-off was that of a championship caliber team. "I just thought that we didn't come out with any energy...it didn't feel like a game was even played today," said the Boys & Girls coach following the game.
Next up for Lincoln is a semifinal game against Bishop Maginn High School, who recently defeated #3 ranked Mount Vernon.
The winner will face #2 ranked Holy Cross, who received a BYE, in the championships.
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