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Panthers roar into 'Marsh Madness'

Lincoln Prep reaches Class 1A semifinals
T. Scott Boatright
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
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Lincoln Preparatory School senior Chanse Robinson (0) poured in 33 points Friday to lead the Panthers to a 70-62 Class 1A boys quarterfinals win at the Lincoln Prep gym.

Update: first-half scores corrected — March 10

GRAMBLING — Sometimes even the best teams can have an off game.

That almost happened to the Lincoln Preparatory School Panthers at the most inopportune time Friday night in the Lincoln Prep gym.

But after a sluggish first half and a downright cold second quarter, the Panthers roared back to life after intermission to take a 70-62 win over East Iberville in quarterfinals play of the Louisiana High School Athletics Assocation's Class 1A boys basketball tournament.

The Panthers will next take on second-seeded Grand Lake in the Class 1A semifinals at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

Lincoln Prep started strong in the quarterfinals win over East Iberville, outscoring the Tigers 21-12 in the opening stanza, and looked to be on their way to another big win after drawing a first-round bye in this year's Class 1A tournament and defeating 14th-seeded Northwood-Lena 76-42 in regional round play.

But the Panthers seemingly fell asleep in the second quarter, being outscored 23-10 to allow the Tigers to take a 35-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.

"I really don't know what happened out there in the second quarter," said Lincoln Prep head coach Antonio Hudson. "We just weren't playing our brand of basketball — our style of defense. East Iberville is a good team with very good guards. We knew that going in.

"We let them get some easy transition baskets, and it got away from us for a little bit."

Lincoln Prep came out in the third quarter with a renewed defensive urgency as the Panthers outscored East Iberville 22-10 in the stanza. A big part of that comeback effort came courtesy of senior Chanse Robinson, a University of Buffalo signee.

Robinson, who had scored only eight points in the first half, poured in 25 of 33 total points in the third quarter to spearhead Lincoln Prep's turnaround.

"He just had to settle down," Hudson said of Robinson. "He's such a competitor that he kind of got off track trying to force the issue in the second quarter. But after halftime, he settled down and started playing his brand of basketball."

Hudson said his halftime talk to his team wasn't as fiery as some might think.

"After the game, I asked my wife and a couple of others what they thought I told the team at halftime, and they thought I went off on the team," Hudson said. "But that wasn't it at all. I just calmly told the team that they had told me this was what they wanted — to reach Marsh Madness and have a chance at a state championship.

"I told them that if that was still what they wanted, their actions had not been up to it in the first half. And then they came out a different team after halftime."

Robinson turned in a double-double for the Panthers, adding 11 rebounds and four steals to his 33-point effort.

Frederico Payne added 18 points for Lincoln Prep along with five steals, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks while Meci Payne chipped in with six points, five rebounds and a steal.

Tristen Gatson also scored six points for the Panthers while adding six rebounds, six assists and a steal while J'Colby Middleton added five points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Hudson admitted he realizes his Panthers will have their hands full in the semifinal match-up with Grand Lake, a team from the Lake Charles area.

"I know Grand Lake is 31-1," he said. "That in itself pretty much tells you how good they are and how they play. They're a good team playing in their hometown, so we have a pretty big challenge ahead. We'll need to be at our best all four quarters in that game."