Lincoln dominates inside to eliminate Nitro, 63-55

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Despite being a fixture in the Class AA state tournament over the last decade, Lincoln’s girls basketball team hadn’t won a game on this stage since 2015.

Perhaps that explains the relief and joy Lincoln coach Rob Hawkins felt Wednesday night after watching the fourth-seeded Cougars hold off No. 5 Nitro, 63-55, in a quarterfinal at the Charleston Coliseum.

“It feels good to be in this room without three crying girls beside me,” Hawkins said.

Indeed, any tears on the Lincoln side would have been from joy after the Cougars (19-6) to advanced to meet No. 1 North Marion in a Friday semifinal.

After seeing its eight-point halftime lead reduced to a 45-44 advantage with 5:42 to play, the Cougars outscored Nitro 18-11 the rest of the way.

Baylee Goins’ bucket pulled the Wildcats (19-8) to within one in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars responded with nine straight points over a span of 2:15 to take control.

Game Highlights

Victoria Sturm, Lincoln’s leading scorer, had the first six of those points, before Brynne Williams connected on a three to make it 54-44 with 3:27 remaining.

“It was a group effort,” Sturm said. “I couldn’t do this without my teammates.”

Although Nitro cut the deficit in half following a Patricia Ward jumper and Haley Caroll triple, it never got closer than five down the stretch.

While Nitro made only 6-of-32 shots in the opening half, the Cougars shot nearly 50 percent (13-of-28) as they consistently got the ball inside and scored 22 points in the paint.

“They beat us more on the inside game than the outside game and we were more worried about the outside game,” Nitro coach Pat Jones said. “They ran a smart offense. They looked for their bigs. Our guards couldn’t front their post so well, because they were so much taller and they lobbed it over our heads. I don’t think we finished as well as what they did in the paint.”

Lincoln finished with a 40-10 advantage in paint points, which helped offset the Wildcats’ 22 offensive rebounds.

“We wanted to attack the basket, get the ball in the paint, get it to the bigs and keep attacking off the dribble,” Hawkins said. “We did a good job with that.”

Sturm scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and made all six of her free throws. Allison Rockwell was also pivotal in the win, finishing with 17 points and a game-best 13 rebounds. Williams added 13 points and eight boards.

“We had to be ourselves on offense,” Rockwell said. “Normally we come down here and play nervous, but we just had to be loose.”

Goins matched Sturm with 26 points, but needed 34 field-goal attempts to do so.

Carroll scored 19 points in defeat.

Lincoln postgame press conference

More High School Sports

High School Sports
Williamstown looks to continue dominance while moving up to Class AA
The Yellowjackets have won the last two Class A state championships.
July 18, 2024 - 6:00 am
High School Sports
Two-time state champion head coach Matt Sauvage steps down at James Monroe
Sauvage led the Mavericks to back-to-back state titles in 2022 and 2023.
July 17, 2024 - 6:58 am
High School Sports
St. Marys moves up to Class AA after 9-win season
The Blue Devils have qualified for the playoffs in 10 of the last 12 seasons.
July 17, 2024 - 5:55 am
High School Sports
Revamped Class A features several state title contenders and promising programs
2023 state runner-up Greenbrier West made the deepest playoff run among Class A returning teams.
July 16, 2024 - 6:00 am