COUNCIL BLUFFS — It's a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing.
The Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln boys basketball team has so many good players that it's impossible to keep everyone happy all the time.
So far, the Lynx have handled it well. And Thursday was another example, even with key cog Tre'Vonte Jones on the sideline. Abraham Lincoln began a 15-0 run late in the first quarter and breezed past St. Albert 72-43 in an intracity clash at the A.L. Fieldhouse.
"I tell them all the time, 'There's no secret recipe to playing 10 good basketball players,' " Abraham Lincoln coach Jason Isaacson said. "It is really difficult. I told them that some of us are going to have to make sacrifices. They're doing a really good job so far.
"I just think that they understand the opportunity that we have. They know if there's a bunch of animosity within them and with the coaching staff, we're not going to accomplish what we want."
Abraham Lincoln, rated fifth in Class 4-A in the state and first in western Iowa (Class 4-A/3-A) by The World-Herald, improved to 18-1 with its 12th straight win. The Lynx won their four regular-season games in the city by an average of 25.3 points.
St. Albert, rated fourth in WI (2-A/1-A), dropped to 11-9.
The 6-foot Jones, who averages 11.7 points and a team-best 3.9 assists, took an elbow in Tuesday's game against Lewis Central and suffered a slight facial fracture above his left eye. He's going through the concussion protocol and responded well. Isaacson said he's hopeful he'll return soon, though he'll likely have to wear a mask.
A.L. didn't miss a beat without him, especially in the final three quarters. After Jake Carley's bucket put the Falcons up 13-10 with 1:03 left in the first period, the Lynx scored the next 15 points and 20 of the next 22. Justin Neyland had eight points and Tony Bonner seven in the burst.
"They weren't ready," Isaacson said. "It doesn't happen a lot with this group, but it definitely happened."
St. Albert coach Dale Scott was pleased with his team's start. But the Falcons couldn't keep up offensively as the game wore on. Some of that was Abraham Lincoln's defense, Scott said, and some was an inability to knock down shots, a common theme recently against large school opponents Harlan, Lewis Central and the Lynx.
"The fault was totally on our offense," Scott said. "Part of that's playing three pretty decent defensive teams. But we're getting looks. We're not connecting. It makes life extremely hard when you shoot like that."
Shooting hasn't been a problem for the Lynx because they share the ball and have threats at virtually every position. Abraham Lincoln entered the game third in 4-A in 3-point percentage at 42.9 percent and second in overall field-goal percentage at 52.8 percent. The Lynx made 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) from long range on Thursday and 48.1 percent overall.
Neyland led Abraham Lincoln with 16 points, while Bonner had 14, Kyle Crowl 13 and Devon Logan 11. Matt Fagan paced St. Albert with eight points and five rebounds.
St. Albert now turns its attention to 1-A district play. According to Brent Moore's computer rankings, the Falcons have played the toughest schedule among Iowa's 153 1-A schools.
"We're competitors, so they're darn disappointed," Scott said. "But we don't have time to pout and moan, because we've got to get better. We've got to get it fixed real fast. Because the season starts tomorrow afternoon in practice."