Lincoln County girls basketball coach Lori Cheeney had a specific game plan for her Lynx on Friday.
The plan was to contain Calvary Chapel’s leading scorer, Phallen Nelson, and maintain solid full-court pressure without fouling.
Both strategies worked to perfection as Lincoln County ran away with a 52-32 win over Calvary Chapel in the Division III Southern League semifinals at Sunrise Mountain. The Lynx (13-4) face Needles (20-7) in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sunrise Mountain. Both Lincoln County and Needles advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.
“The girls are all just coming together,” Cheeney said. “The last few times we’ve beaten (Calvary Chapel), we had one or two girls doing some good things. We had a complete team effort, and everybody was in sync with each other tonight. That made the difference.”
Senior Jaycee Wadsworth had 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals to lead Lincoln County. She scored 13 points in the first half as the Lynx took a 27-15 halftime lead.
“Jaycee has been pretty consistent for me for three years,” Cheeney said. “It’s not always pretty, but she gets the job done. I think now she realizes that this is it. She has nothing to lose so she’s going all out. She’s hard on herself, but she’s probably one of the most positive teammates to everyone else.”
Kayla Mathews added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx, and teammate Savannah Harr scored eight.
But it was the team’s defense that sent Lincoln County into the championship game.
Calvary Chapel’s Nelson, who entered the game averaging 17.5 points per game, was held to just three points in the first half and was plagued by early foul trouble. She picked up her third foul in the second quarter and then a fourth with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Nelson tied her season-low with 10 points, and fouled out with 5:50 left in the game.
“The first time we played against them, (Nelson) scored 21 points,” Cheeney said. “And the second time, she scored 16. She’s been in foul trouble both times we played against her so that was part of the plan, to go at her and get her into foul trouble.”
Lincoln County’s press suffocated Calvary Chapel (13-7) all game. The Lynx gave up only 10 total points and forced 16 turnovers in the middle quarters alone.
“We work a lot on the press because we are so strong on defense,” Cheeney said. “That’s what we rely on. The few times we haven’t started out the game pressing, it just goes flat really fast.”
Lianne Reyes kept Calvary Chapel competitive with a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line and 10 of the Lions’ 15 points before halftime.
Reyes finished with 18 points and three assists.
Lincoln County punched its ticket to state for the 12th time in 15 years, and will be seeking its first state championship since 2000.
Needles 48, The Meadows 33 — Demi Limon had 14 points as Needles avenged a pair of regular-season losses to The Meadows.
“We’ve been playing really great basketball the last four or five games,” Needles coach Manuel Calderon said. “The Meadows did beat us twice (earlier in the season) in closely contested games. We knew we wanted this rematch. It’s hard to beat a team three times, so this is the rematch we wanted.”
De’Chaunee Russell had 11 points and 12 rebounds, and teammate Brenna Chavez scored 12 for Needles, which led 27-16 at halftime, and 44-25 with 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Needles, the No. 3 seed in the league tournament, swept top-seeded Lincoln County during the regular season.
“There was so much parity with everyone beating each other,” Calderon said. “It’s set up for us again. We wanted Lincoln again because we feel like we match up better against them physically than we do Calvary because of speed. Everything seems to be falling into place. We want to come out and take care of business and hopefully go to Reno as the No. 1 seed.”
Delaney Gosse had 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals to lead The Meadows (16-7), and sister Bailey Gosse added seven points and five rebounds.