On Dec. 18, Lincolnwood survived a battle with Southwestern at home to win 40-38. Three days later, the Lancers did it again, beating Bunker Hill in a 37-36 dog fight at the Woodshed in Raymond.
Now after two weeks away, the Lancers found themselves in a similar position, at the end of their game with Mt. Pulaski on Jan. 4. It might be a trend for the Lancers, but as long as it keeps going their way, Coach Matt Millburg and his players will take it.
On Tuesday, the Lincolnwood came back from a seven-point first quarter deficit to win 48-45, their sixth win overall and third straight victory by single digits.
The early deficit had been somewhat of a characteristic of the Lancers’ wins over Bunker Hill and Southwestern, too, with Lincolnwood trailing by five after one quarter in each of those games. In those games, the Lancers came storming back in the second, outscoring Southwestern 13-5 and Bunker Hill 16-9 to erase the shortfall and take a halftime lead.
It looked as if that wouldn’t be the case against the Hilltoppers as they outscored Lincolnwood 9-6 in the first five and a half minutes of the second quarter to hold a 26-16 lead, their largest of the game.
But just after Mt. Pulaski’s lead went to 10 points, Will Jenkins brought the Lancers back within seven with a three from the left side. Lincolnwood got the ball back seconds later and cut the lead to five with two minutes to play on a bucket by Braden Whalen.
The comeback continued inside a minute to play as Jenkins buried a three from deep as the Hilltoppers’ lead had all but disappeared in the span of two minutes.
The advantage would survive until halftime, though, as Aidan Schneider hit a basket with 25 seconds left to up their lead to 28-24 at the break.
Smelling blood in the water, Lincolnwood pounced on the Hilltoppers in the second half. Braden Whalen scored eight points in the first five minutes of the third quarter to spark a 10-0 run by the Lancers, with Gabe Armentrout putting in an offensive rebound as well.
Mt. Pulaski finally broke through with three minutes to play in the quarter on a two by Jackson Fricke and outscored Lincolnwood 5-2 after that, but the Lancers still held a 36-35 lead after three quarters of play.
To start the fourth, Jenkins and Whalen hit a three and a two to up Lincolnwood’s lead back to six points as they held Mt. Pulaski scoreless for another four-plus minutes. The Toppers tried to come back, getting a three from Gavin Smith, but Whalen answered with two and upped the lead to 45-38 with just under three minutes to play.
The two teams would trade baskets over the next few minutes, with Mt. Pulaski getting as close as two when Smith hit his second three at the one minute mark.
After the inbounds, Whalen took over for the Lancers and was fouled when he drove to the basket. The Morrisonville junior knocked down one of his two free throws to make it 48-45, meaning that Mt. Pulaski would need a three to send the game to overtime.
Getting the ball back with 39 seconds left, the Toppers worked to find an open shot, but soon found out it would be a tough search.
Mt. Pulaski Head Coach Ryan Deibert called a timeout with 22.5 seconds to play after a quick score didn’t materialize.
Eighteen more seconds ticked off the clock before Deibert called another timeout as the Lancers guarded the Toppers so close they could tell what kind of toothpaste they used. With one shot at extending the game, Mt. Pulaski got the ball in and tried for a game-tying three from the corner, which missed its mark and sewed up the win for Lincolnwood.
After giving up 17 points in the first quarter, Lincolnwood gave up just 28 over the next three frames.
Offensively, Braden Whalen led Lincolnwood with 28 points, scoring 17 of those points in the critical third and fourth quarters. The game was Whalen’s fourth with 20 or more points and was a career-best for the Lancers’ leading scorer this season.
Will Jenkins complemented Whalen’s slashing style with 11 points, nine of which came from three-point land. Brady Schmedeke also hit a three for 60 percent of his five points, while Jonah Elvidge and Gabe Armentrout added two apiece.
Eight different players would score for Mt. Pulaski, but only one, Aidan Schneider with 12, would reach double figures.
With the win, Lincolnwood ups their record to 6-9 on the season. They will wrap up the week on Friday, Jan. 7, at Nokomis, with the JV tipping off at 6 p.m.
January 4 at Raymond
Mt. Pulaski 17 11 7 10 45
Lincolnwood 10 14 12 12 48
Mt. Pulaski (45) - Aidan Schneider 12, Lane Murphy 8, Gavin Smith 6, Lucas Kuhlman 6, Jackson Fricke 6, Clay Aylesworth 3, Evan Cooper 2, Cullen Tyson 2. Totals: 18 5-8 45.
Lincolnwood (48) - Braden Whalen 28, Will Jenkins 11, Brady Schmedeke 5, Jonah Elvidge 2, Gabe Armentrout 2. Totals: 19 6-9 48.
Three-point field goals: Mt. Pulaski 4 (Smith 2, Murphy 1, Aylesworth 1); Lincolnwood 4 (Jenkins 3, Schmedeke 1).
Records: Mt. Pulaski (6-5); Lincolnwood (6-9).
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