NORTH SMITHFIELD –Kent Crooks realizes that this year’s squad doesn’t really have a superstar or a good-to guy.
What the Lincoln High coach does know is that he has multiple players that can get the job done.
And that was clearly on display during Friday night’s non-league Injury Fund contest versus North Smithfield.
Three players scored in double digits and half a dozen netted at least six points as the Lions breezed to a 76-38 win over a somewhat-shorthanded Northmen squad at the Lovett Gymnasium. Lincoln was led by a team-high 16 points from Mike Akanji.
“We got ten guys and a lot of interchangeable parts,” Crooks said. “I think they played pretty hard (tonight). We still have a lot to work on but I just told them in the locker room that it’s going to be a pleasure to work with them because all ten of them are into it. We don’t have a superstar and teams are interesting when they don’t.”
A couple of things that Crooks felt his squad needed to work on was defending underneath the hoop and making the easy shots as his Lions missed a number of layups in the contest.
“We missed a ton of bunnies,” he said. “I told them close your eyes and imagine the score if you put the ball higher on the glass. The word is finish. I think that will come.”
But the Lions quickness and often hard-nosed defense certainly made up for its missed bunnies and created frustration for the Northmen. Lincoln finished the night with 17 steals with Ryan Musket leaving the court with five thefts.
“We played decent man-to-man,” Crooks said. “I thought we did a good job of keeping the ball on our side of the court. I don’t think we did a good job, at times, defending the post, but that will get better.”
Lincoln was competing against a North Smithfield squad that was without several of its players, who just finished out their season on the football team. The Northmen did hang tough early in the contest, but it didn’t take long for the Lions to take control.
The Northmen had the lead just once, scoring the first bucket of the tilt. With the Lions holding a 12-6 advantage, N.S. got within three points on a three-pointer from Walker Strick with 9:22 left in the half.
The Lions took over from there. Generating a good portion of its points from turnovers, Lincoln went on a 12-3 run in the next four minutes and never looked back.
Demonstrating its toughness to the basket, Lincoln scored eight of its final 11 points in the half from the free throw line. The Lions went into the locker room with a comfortable 40-21 lead.
“We were a little shorthanded,” said N.S. coach T.J. Kozacka. “We brought up a jayvee kid. A lot of football players didn’t play because they just got back this week. We were a little shorthanded and I think they just kind of beat us down a little bit. That’s a good fundamentally sound team and they know how to run their offense. They showcased it today. That was good playing by them.”
Lincoln distributed the stats freely. The senior tandem of Curtis Walsh and Matt Lague (five assists) scored 14 and 12 points, respectively. Sophomore Andrew Juckett had eight rebounds and Akanji grabbed seven boards. Matt Sorkin was strong at point guard and had eight points and three assists.
North Smithfield had a team-high 12 points from junior Jacob Walkow, The next top scorer for N.S. was Strick with four points.
LINCOLN (76) – Brendan Reddington 1 4-4 7, Matt Sorkin 1 5-6 8, Anthony Palombo 1 0-1 2, Matt Lague 5 2-4 12, Matt Menucci 2 0-1 4, Curtis Walsh 5 2-2 14, Ryan Musket 2 2-2 6, Mike Akanji 7 0-0 16, Devante BarBosa 1 1-2 3, Andrew Juckett 1 2-2 4. Totals – 26 18-22 76
NORTH SMITHFIELD (38) – Nathan Correia 1 0-0 3, Carlos Guzman 1 0-0 3, Walker Strick 1 2-3 4, Shawn Keeley 0 3-4 3, Jacob Walkow 5 2-3 12, Kevin Woodworth 0 1-2 1, Trevor Johnston 1 1-2 3, Cory Lefebvre 1 0-0 2, Tyler Boileau 0 3-6 3. Totals – 11 14-25 38
Halftime – L, 40-21. 3-point goals – L (6): Reddington, Sorkin, Walsh 2, Akanji 2. NS (2): Correia, Gonzalez.