Lincoln County girls basketball coach Lori Cheeney stresses hard-nosed defense.
Her message seems to have been received by the Lynx players.
Lincoln County caused 18 turnovers en route to a 48-34 road victory Friday over The Meadows. The Lynx (10-3) moved to 10-1 in the Division III Southern League, and have a 1 1/2-game lead over Needles with three games remaining.
“Defense is the heart of our game,” Cheeney said. “We rely on our defense for our intensity and everything else.
“We’re where we want to be, (and) I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else going into the playoffs. It means a lot to us to get this win. We have one more big win we’re after (and that is) against Needles.”
Led by Savannah Harr’s six steals, Lincoln County was disruptive from the tipoff.
After The Meadows scored the game’s first four points, Lincoln County used its full-court pressure to battle back. The Lynx closed out the first quarter on a 9-2 run.
Harr finished with 10 points, and Jaycee Wadsworth scored 13 for the Lincoln County, which led 19-17 at halftime. Kayla Matthews added six points and seven rebounds for the Lynx.
“They’ve got a well-balanced team and a lot of experience,” The Meadows coach Frank DeSantis said. “We’ve been playing well but experience did take over (tonight). They turned it up another notch (that) we can’t. We’ve got some inexperienced players, but they’re playing hard.”
Bailey Gosse and Anjali Daulat each scored nine points for the Mustangs, who shot just 3-for-14 from the free-throw line.
“I thought my girls competed,” DeSantis said. “We didn’t make great plays, but I thought they competed. That’s all you can ever ask from anyone, so I was proud of that.”
Melaney Mayes added five points and nine rebounds for The Meadows (13-6, 8-3), which is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Mustangs are third in the league behind Lincoln County and Needles. The top four make the playoffs.
Lincoln County was the state runner-up last season, and has made it to state every year since 2008. Cheeney hopes her current team can claim the school’s first title since 2000.
“That’s the goal,” said Cheeney, who’s in her third year coaching. “We played a couple of teams from the north. The north is really tough, so we’ve got a lot of homework to do. I’m hoping this year we can go all the way.”