LINCOLN — Jaden Jilg-Brown said his Lincoln High boys basketball team wasn't rusty after a 10-day layoff between games. But the scoreboard said otherwise.
By the end of No. 9 Lincoln High's 60-43 win Friday night at Lincoln East, though, it was apparent Jilg-Brown and the Links had regained their rhythm in their first game since the Heartland Conference tournament.
Lincoln High rallied from an early third-quarter deficit with an 18-0 run to pull away.
Jilg-Brown led all scorers with 18 points, including six early in the fourth quarter to give Lincoln High (7-3) a double-digit lead after it had trailed by four midway through the third.
The Links spurred the comeback with a defensive effort that held Lincoln East (6-5) without a basket for nearly eight minutes. The Spartans didn't hit a shot from the 4:01 mark of the third quarter until Bryan Reimers' lay-in with 4 minutes, 3 seconds to play.
“We came out and got good stops. We got consecutive stops because after those stops we got some buckets,” Jilg-Brown said. “We just kept getting stops and executing our offense, and things played out for us.”
Lincoln East led 32-28 with 3:02 left in the third quarter before Jason Towery finally got going. After scoring 27 points in the teams' first meeting on Dec. 28, the Links' 6-foot-4 junior was held to four points in the first half Friday before coming alive in the second half. Towery scored three straight baskets near the end of the third to put Lincoln High on top 36-32.
Towery finished with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
“I feel like I wasn't as aggressive in the first half,” Towery said. “I needed to start attacking more. We just pushed the ball, and I just saw a couple holes and were able to get downhill.”
Reimers led Lincoln East with 12 points, and Branden Carpenter had 11. The Spartans were 7 of 21 from the field in the second half and missed eight of their 12 free throws in the game.
“We were getting decent looks. We just weren't hitting shots,” Lincoln East coach Jeff Campbell said. “I think we were 4-for-12 from the free throw line, and you're not going to win many games when you do that. We had one (3-pointer), and the one 3 was a bank shot. Usually, we shoot the ball much better than that.”
Towery said his team will need to harness a full game of Friday's second-half competitiveness when the Links host No. 3 Omaha Benson (9-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Earl Johnson Gym.
“Right now, it's just another game to us,” Towery said. “We've just got to battle. That's the biggest key there.”
Lincoln High (7-3) ............................................... 11 13 12 24—60
At Lincoln East (6-5) .......................................... 10 15 7 11—43
LH: Jilg-Brown 18, Towery 16, Davis 10, Cuddy 5, Wilson 4, Griffin 3, Wuol 2, Sorge 2
LE: Reimers 12, Carpenter 11, Dennis 5, Stephens 4, Cunning 4, Bryson Metcalf 3, Brandon Metcalf 2