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By Paul Henry, Staff Writer
Lincoln County High School’s Falcons clinched the number one seed going in to tournament with a convincing 73-51 win over Columbia Friday night.
It’s the first time since 1996 that LCHS finished in the top spot.
Tuesday night, the Falcons held on for a barn-burning win over Tullahoma, 50-49.
The win earns the Falcons a bye in the first round of tournament action. On Saturday at Lawrenceburg, Lincoln County will play the winner of the Shelbyville vs. Lawrence County game to be played Friday.
In other first round action, Franklin County travels to Columbia.
Wrapping up the regular season in District 8-AAA, the Falcons finished at 8-2. Tullahoma was also 8-2, but LCHS got the top seed by sweeping Tullahoma. Columbia finished 6-4; Lawrence County, 5-5; Shelbyville, 2-8; and Franklin County is 1-9.
“I’m proud of the guys for their hard work this year,” said Coach Chad Tipps. “The guys deserve the top seed. It’s been a while coming.
“I told them after the game to enjoy the night,” added Coach Tipps, “but get ready to get back to work and finish what we’ve started. The district tournament starts a new season. Our conference is so balanced we’ve got to put the wins behind us and be ready to play.
“We’ll play the winner of the Lawrence County/Shelbyville game,” Coach Tipps continued. “They’re two different style teams. I don’t want to get caught preparing for one without knowing who we’ve got. We’ll mainly work on improving our game.
“We need to work on our production on our offensive possessions. Most every game we get on a run of three or four bad possessions where we make one pass and one shot – which is just like a turnover. Those can cost you a game. Of course, defensively we can always improve.”
Against the Lions Friday night, the Falcons were without starter Skylar Mefford who was out with an ankle injured at practice last week.
The Falcons jumped on Columbia early. B.J. Thompson had a great eight minutes, pouring in 9 points in the period. At the end of one, LCHS was up 22-12.
Fitzgerald Hopkins was the man in the second with 14 points in the period. The Falcons won the quarter, 22-15, and were up, 44-27, at the break.
Lincoln County kept the margin at 20 points most of the second half. Hopkins kept the pressure on offense, adding 9 points in the third. LCHS won the period, 17-14, and was up, 61-41, at the end of three.
The Falcons won the fourth, 12-10. Justin Blackwell nailed a 3-pointer from the corner with six ticks on the clock, and LCHS has the win, 73-51.
Hopkins led for the Falcons with 28 points. B.J. Thompson added 17. Andrew Mustin had 12 points and 8 rebounds; Tyler Arnold, 4; Brandon Gower and Justin Blackwell, 3; Ty Hadley, Tradarius Christian and Ty Lewter scored 2.
The Falcons were 21 of 36 from the paint and 5 of 16 from the arch. From the line, LCHS was 16 of 21.
Hopkins hit three from the arch; Gower and Blackwell had one each.
LCHS pulled 25 boards to 24 for the Lions.
The Falcons picked up 25 points off 25 Lion turnovers, while giving up 15 points on 12 miscues.
The Falcons hung on for a big 50-49 win on the road over the district-leading Tullahoma Wildcats Tuesday night.
LCHS led by as many as 18 points, up 47-29 with 4:22 remaining in the fourth. The Falcons hung on and finished on top, 50-49.
The Falcons were up against the ‘Cats 8-0 with 3:52 in the first, but LCHS remained scoreless from that point and were on top 8-7 at the end of one.
Lincoln County won the second, 15-12, up 23-19 at the half.
The Falcons took the third, 16-10, on top 39-29 at the end of three.
In the final four minutes of the fourth LCHS watched an 18-point lead disappear. The ‘Cats got hot from the arch, nailing four from long range in the period. With 1:42 remaining in the game, the Falcons were up 49-38. Tullahoma got on an 11-1 run in the final minute that saw LCHS take it to the paint but couldn’t get the shots to fall or draw the foul. Tullahoma threw a floor-length Hail Mary at the buzzer, and the Falcons had the win, 50-49.
Fitzgerald Hopkins led for LCHS with 14 points. Tradarius Christian added 10; B.J. Thompson, 8; Andrew Mustin, 7; Brandon Gower, 6; Skylar Medford, 3; Tyler Arnold and Justin Blackwell scored 1.
The Falcons were 11 of 28 from the paint and 5 of 11 from the arch. From the line, LCHS was 13 of 24.
Gower had two from the arch. Hopkins, Medford and Christian had one.
Both teams pulled 37 rebounds.
The Falcons had 20 turnovers that gave up 23 points. The ‘Cats had 19, giving up 21 points.