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LINCOLN â€” After rolling to six straight triumphs, Lincoln High sustained a crushing 38-37 Division II-North loss to Moses Brown School on Feb. 12, and that sent it into a dismal tailspin.
On Valentine's Night, they dropped a 57-34 verdict to II Central-leading and unbeaten St. Raphael, 57-34, before getting exploited by Scituate (69-49) and Johnston (42-29) in two more league clashes.
â€śWe had lost four in a row, and it began with the heartbreaker to Moses Brown,â€ť head coach Andy Hallam stated. â€śWe lost our way a little bit, so I had a meeting with the captains. I told them, 'OK, girls, we're going back to basics, and it all starts with defense. We're going to focus on that.â€ť
The decision more than showed itself on Wednesday night. The Lions held Mount St. Charles scoreless for the final 4:41 of the opening half â€“ all the while manufacturing a 23-7 flurry in the last 11:31 of the same â€“ to roll to a satisfying 53-29 blowout win over Mount St. Charles at the â€śDen.â€ť
With the victory, it's first since a 53-48 non-league triumph over Cumberland on Feb. 19, Hallam and Co. improved to 10-9 overall and 7-6 in league action.
Senior quad-captain Kellyn Dyer, who stands just 5-2, paced the hosts with a game-high 16 points, four boards, three steals and (believe it or not) two blocks. Fellow captain Shirley Carrington added 10 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Meg Chatowsky contributed nine points, (six from Treyland).
Another senior quad-captain, Casie Beauchemin, finished with just six points, but played a key role in the front court.
The Mounties may have fallen to 5-13 overall and 5-8 in II-North, but freshman guard Julia Laquerre played superbly, dropping 12 points and earning six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Senior captain Noreen Mulledy may have netted just two points, but she played well defensively with 13 boards, 10 blocks and four thefts.
The next highest scorer for MSC was junior guard Emi Cadden (five).
â€śJulia had her best game all year, but we didn't,â€ť confessed Mounties' mentor Jessica Shiel. â€śWe just missed a lot of easy baskets. I thought, defensively, Noreen played well; offensively, not so much. She got elbowed, so she wasn't at her best because of the injury.
â€śYou have to give Lincoln's defense credit,â€ť she added. â€śThey were in our faces all night.â€ť
Mulledy landed her lone bucket on a putback just 47 ticks into the contest, and junior Victoria Dill (four points) hit one of her own before Laquerre canned a free throw to make it 5-2 with 11:50 left in the initial stanza.
That, however, is when Lincoln put together a mammoth flurry. Sophomore Maddie Georgeu netted a 10-foot baseline jumper to make it 5-4, and Carrington converted a driving layup to give the Lions their first lead at 6-5.
Laquerre's lay-in off a steal regained the lead (9-8) for the Mounties with 9:03 left, though Carrington dropped two of four free throws on consecutive possessions to give Lincoln its second lead of the tilt. It never trailed again.
MSC fought back to slice the deficit to 14-12 with 5:16 remaining, and Dyer's layup off a steal led to a conventional three-point play with 4:41 on the clock; that delivered to Hallam a 17-12 advantage.
Carrington followed with a fast-break, flying baseline jumper, Beauchemin canned two foul shots and Dyer â€“ who was falling on the play â€“ somehow rolled on a blind heave to make it 23-12.
Chatowsky's lay-in with 5.9 seconds left before the break left the Lions in front, 25-12.
Chatowsky picked up where she left off, as â€“ just 45 ticks into the final session â€“ she landed her first of two three-point bombs. The Mounties eventually closed to 33-20 on a Dill putback, but Dyer's coast-to-coast soaring hook and Chatowsky's short jumper off a theft made it 37-20 with 9:15 remaining.
A mere 3:17 later, after Carrington's board/bucket, Lincoln had increased the lead to 45-20.
Just 16 seconds after, at the 6:42 mark, senior Amy Schmitt hit a short baseline shot; it marked the first bucket for MSC since 11:37.
Yes, the visitors went another 4:55 without a point.
All told, the Lions' â€śDâ€ť forced 22 turnovers, though made 19 itself. While registering nine personal fouls in the first stanza, they committed just two over the last 16 minutes.
Those numbers were backward for the Mount, who closed with 10, five coming in the latter half.
â€śI loved our attitude (Wednesday night),â€ť Hallam noted. â€śIt was very positive, and the girls were very competitive from the start. We focused on our relationships on and off the court. These girls, and you can ask any of them, love the family atmosphere; like any family, you have some good days and bad, but we really came together.â€ť
Up next for Lincoln is a home rematch against Burrillville, which recorded a four-point win over the Lions on Jan. 14.
â€śThe kids want that one after what happened,â€ť Hallam said of the 43-39 defeat at the Broncos' Dome.
They will close the regular season at North Providence on March 4, then host Johnston (a 42-29 victor on Monday evening) on the Lions' Senior Night next Thursday.
â€śThe girls want that one, too,â€ť Hallam grinned.