The Lincoln High School boys’ basketball team knows it will get everyone’s best shot in the Academic Athletic Association this season. It was no different Thursday night at Balboa High School.
Despite shooting 37 percent and turning the ball over 17 times, Lincoln won another league road game, riding seniors Seth Snoddy and Davion Telfor in a grinding 51-46 victory against Balboa.
Balboa (12-9. 3-3 AAA) had no answer for the 6-foot-7 Snoddy. The senior dominated the boards all night and changed the complexion of the game with his size, scoring 14 points to go along with 20 rebounds and a game-high five blocks.
With Lincoln (13-8, 6-0) clinging to a 49-45 lead with 26 seconds left, Snoddy snuffed out Balboa’s late rally with an emphatic block, keeping the Mustangs undefeated in AAA play.
“I feel I played [well], but I can always do better. I just want this team to be successful. I’m not trying to go out like we did last year,” Snoddy said referring to last season’s triple overtime loss to Mission in the AAA championship.
Early on, the Buccaneers, who shot only 30 percent and committed 14 turnovers, rode the hot hand of Sam Esser. The junior guard opened the game up with two consecutive 3-pointers. Esser, who finished with a game-high 22 points, was slowed down in the second half as Lincoln defensively used Tyree Marzetta to face-guard him, refusing to give Esser open looks.
With the rest of the Balboa shooters struggling, the Buccaneers simply couldn’t muster enough offense to overcome the bigger Mustangs.
“They started denying our shooters and it’s tough because it forced some of our other players to shoot, which they’re not used to,” Balboa coach Val Cubales said. “With the size that Lincoln has and them being the No. 1 team in the league, I told our guys to keep their heads up, and don’t be discouraged. We played hard tonight.”
After Balboa tied the game 28-28 on senior Tamal Blankenship’s 3-pointer from the top of the key, Lincoln opened the second half on an 8-3 run. But it was the Mustangs’ resolve in the fourth quarter that showed they’ll be a tough out come playoff time.
The Buccaneers scored the first five points in the fourth quarter to tie the game 38-38 with 5:02 left in the game. Lincoln, however, scored seven straight after the Balboa run with Telfor chipping in two layups during the spurt. Telfor finished with a team-high 17 points.
“We didn’t play the perfect game, but our size and length really helped us control the glass,” Lincoln coach Matt Jackson said. “[Esser] is probably the best shooter in the AAA, so to be able to slow him down in the second half, was big. It’s nice to come up with another road win.”