COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln reinforced the value of decision-making in its 54-38 Class 4-A, Substate 1 semifinal win against Lewis Central on Friday.
Fortunately for the No. 2 Lynx, they grasped the lesson in time to put themselves one win from qualifying for their first state tournament since 2000.
Abraham Lincoln’s offense clicked early as the Lynx jumped to a 24-7 lead 1:31 into the second quarter. But over the rest of the half, the Lynx settled for perimeter shots instead of attacking the basket. They made 3 of 13 field goals in the second quarter, scoring seven points, which allowed Lewis Central back into contention.
The Titans went on a 14-2 run to close to 26-21 at halftime. The Lynx discussed at half the importance of shot selection, and they translated it well to the court.
Abraham Lincoln outscored the Titans 16-2 in the third quarter on its way to a victory.
Though Abraham Lincoln coach Jason Isaacson wasn’t thrilled about losing a big lead, he was pleased his team maintained its aggressiveness in the first half.
“We kind of got out of sync when we’d shoot that first one in five seconds on three or four possessions,” Isaacson said. “It’s good in one way because they’re confident. They know that we want them to get shots and good looks. But it’s about understanding the flow of the situation when they’re not going in and how to handle it. It was a good learning experience.”
The victory puts the Lynx (21-1) back in the same substate final where their season ended a year ago. They’ll face Sioux City East (18-4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City. The winner advances to the state tournament in Des Moines.
The Lynx benefited from a balanced offensive effort. Justin Neyland finished with a game-high 14 points. Kyle Crowl, who last week became the school’s career scoring leader, finished with 12. Tony Bonner added 11.
Crowl said Isaacson’s halftime message was simple and to the point.
“We talked about moving the ball more and getting better shots,” Crowl said. “We only had one possession there in the second quarter where we moved the ball well and got a good shot.”
Having Bonner back to defend the basket helped. The 6-foot-8 center picked up his second foul with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter and sat out nearly the rest of the half. His void was felt as Lewis Central posts Ja’Chai Baker and Mitchell Brinkman scored four points apiece as part of the quarter-closing run to get the Titans back in contention.
That all changed in the second half. Bonner had four rebounds and three blocks in the third quarter, and the Lynx opened the frame on an 8-0 run to stretch their lead to 13 with 4:28 left in the third.
Neyland tallied eight points in the quarter.
“We just lived in the moment, played the game and just stayed focused on the court,” Neyland said. “We were shooting great shots. They just weren’t falling. We shoot those all the time. We just had to stay in the flow and not get down on ourselves.”
Abraham Lincoln’s lead grew to 23 at one point in the fourth. All nine Abraham Lincoln players who saw action Friday scored.
Now the Lynx will look to accomplish their biggest goal of the season by qualifying for the state tournament. Abraham Lincoln suffered a one-point loss with the same stakes last year against Sioux City North.
The Lynx defeated Sioux City East this season by 21 and 14 points, but Isaacson knows his team will have its hands full Tuesday.
“They’re one of the best scouting teams out there,” Isaacson said. “They do a phenomenal job. At the end of the day, it comes down to the same things — playing D, being tough on the boards and taking great shots. We’ll definitely do our work to get ready for them.”
CB Lewis Central (11-11) .......................... 7 14 2 15—38
At CB Abraham Lincoln (21-1) .................. 19 7 16 12—54
LC: Joel Thompson 1-6 0-0 2, Blake Elam 1-12 1-2 3, Chad Moran 4-12 0-1 9, Mitchell Brinkman 2-6 1-1 5, Ja’Chai Baker 5-14 1-1 11, Max Duggan 0-3 0-2 0, Kyle Arrington 1-3 1-1 3, Wil Prine 1-1 0-0 2, Connor Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Charles Maker 1-3 0-0 3, Logan Redeker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-60 4-8 38.
AL: Adam Barrett 0-3 2-2 2, Tre’Vonte Jones 2-7 0-0 6, Kyle Crowl 4-10 2-4 12, Justin Neyland 5-11 2-5 14, Tony Bonner 4-8 3-4 11, Trey Nixon 1-2 0-0 2, Tyler Myers 1-1 0-0 2, Landon Torneten 1-3 0-0 3, Devon Logan 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 18-45 11-17 54.
3-point goals: LC 2-14 (Moran 1-3, Maker 1-3, Thompson 0-2, Elam 0-5, Brinkman 0-1); AL 7-21 (Jones 2-3, Crowl 2-8, Neyland 2-6, Torneten 1-2, Barrett 0-1, Nixon 0-1). Rebounds: LC 41 (Moran 9), AL 32 (Bonner 7). Assists: LC 3 (3 with 1), AL 13 (Jones 4). Steals: LC 5 (Moran 2), AL 7 (Crowl 4). Blocks: LC 1 (Arrington), AL 8 (Bonner 5). Turnovers: LC 14, AL 12.
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