Coney Island signifies a number of things to New Yorkers: the Cyclone rollercoaster, Nathan's Hotdogs, and the beach. You can add Lincoln High School basketball to that list after the success that they have had in recent decades. The legacy and tradition continued to build on Thursday evening, as the Railsplitters topped the Boys & Girls Kangaroos 109-95 in double overtime in the rematch of last year's PSAL city title game.
The Brooklyn gym was packed from the start of the game, as it was Boys & Girls that sent the tempo early on, grabbing a 5-0 lead out of the gate. Both Boys & Girls coach Ruth Lovelace and Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton came into this game with different game plans, as the Kangaroos played on the perimeter and shot a lot of three pointers while Lincoln worked the ball inside quite a bit to 6'8" junior center, James Padgett and 6'7" power forward, Justin Greene. An eventful first quarter disrupted by a technical foul on each team ended with Lincoln in front 23-18 after Lincoln forward Reggie Davis slammed home a dunk at the buzzer. These were two of the three technicals, in addition to an intentional foul, that were called in this often inconsistently officiated ball game.
Going into the second quarter, Lincoln junior Lance Stephenson decided to begin putting on a show for the home crowd inside the Coney Island gym. Stephenson scored in an array of ways, as he was able to do damage on the break, from inside and outside of the three-point line as well as inside the paint. Kangaroos coach Lovelace put a number of players on Stephenson, but none were able to slow him down on his way to 19 first half points. Senior forward, David Imes and senior guard, Brandon Romain were able to keep Boys & Girls in the game during the second quarter. The 6'6" Imes was able to step out and shoot three pointers while the lanky Romain hit a number of mid-range jump shots on his way to 12 second quarter points. Despite the fact that Lincoln outplayed Boys & Girls for much of the half, the Kangaroos still found themselves hanging around, only down by a score of 44-41.
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As the third quarter began, it looked like the home school was ready to pull away with this regular season game as they went on a 5-0 run to open their lead to 49-41, but the Kangaroos continued to fight their way back into the game and soon cut the score to 52-51 when the 6'6" Rutger-bound Patrick Jackson connected on a three pointer. Overall, Boys & Girls seemed more aggressive in the second half, as they were mixing their offense up quite a bit by getting into the paint instead of relying on the three-ball. By the end of the third quarter, Lincoln barely built on their halftime lead, up by only four heading into the final period of regulation.
There is a popular saying by basketball coaches that goes "Put the opposition away when you have the chance and don't let them hang around." Coach Morton's team will take that saying to heart after this game. The Railsplitters had plenty of chances to build a large lead against the Kangaroos but weren't able to do so, and with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter, Jackson's lay-up put the game back where it started…all tied up. With 2:25 left, after a series of out of control possessions and situations which included a technical on Boys & Girls' Brandon Romain for yelling at one of the officials, Imes knocked down a long three pointer to give the Kangaroos a 79-77 lead and some momentum. Lincoln would soon squash that momentum as consecutive buckets by the 6'5" Stephenson built Lincoln's lead to two possessions, up 83-79 with just over a minute remaining in regulation. After another series of back and forth possessions, the senior transfer from Xaverian, Patrick Jackson knocked down a three to cut the lead to one and after Stephenson made one of two free throws during the ensuing possession, Romain was fouled with 11 seconds left. The guard came up clutch by knocking down both free throws to tie the game at 84, and after Lincoln didn't convert on their final possession, the game was headed into its first overtime.
The overtime period started with the same sloppy play that the end of the regulation period ended with, as only five points were scored in the first two minutes of the four minute extra session. A three pointer by Clayton Sterling gave Boys & Girls an 89-87 lead and soon after 6'4" forward, CJ Reid converted a lay-up to build the lead to four. However, it would be Lincoln that would show the fight inside the final minute to come back this time, as a Timothy Flowers three pointer from the baseline cut the Kangaroos lead to 92-91. With 12 seconds left, the junior phenom Stephenson fouled out after finishing with 32 points, and after Clayton Sterling knocked down one of two free throws, the visiting Boys & Girls team was up by two. Out of a timeout, another Xaverian transfer, Vincent Council, drove the lane for Lincoln and hit a short pull up jump shot with 4 seconds left to tie the game at 93 and to send the match into its second extra frame.
Many people would think that without Lance Stephenson, Lincoln wouldn't be such a dominant team in New York City. However, after the second overtime against Boys & Girls people may need to rethink that. With Stephenson out of the game, Lincoln dominated the second overtime, outscoring Boys & Girls 16-2. With Lincoln up 97-93, a highly questionable intentional foul was called on Boys & Girls' Brandon Romain with 2:02 remaining on the clock. The effects of this call would eventually seal the deal for the #1 team in the NYCHoops.net rankings, as they cruised from there to the buzzer, winning 109-95 and sending the Lincoln faithful pouring onto the court to celebrate.
Lance Stephensons 32 points, led Lincoln. Also contributing for the Railsplitters was Darwin "Budha" Ellis with 19 points and Timothy Flowers chipping in with 17 points. Boys & Girls, who should gain confidence by showing that they could come so close to winning in Lincoln's gym, was led by Patrick Jackson with 26 points and was complimented by David Imes with 16 points.
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