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Another district title

Lincoln Prep claims 2-1A crown against Cedar Creek
Thursday, February 8, 2024
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Lincoln Prep used a huge run in the second quarter to defeat Cedar Creek and officially win the District 2-1A title on Tuesday. Photo by Darrell James

The Lincoln Prep Panthers once again claimed their spot atop the District 2-1A mountain after defeating Cedar Creek 73-41 on Tuesday to officially clinch their district title.

With the win, Prep has now won 12 straight and remains a top-five team in the Division IV Select power ratings, sitting in solid position to have a first-round bye and host come playoff time.

But it wasn’t all easy going in the blowout win for the Panthers (15-7, 5-0), as Cedar Creek took advantage of miscues in the third quarter to cut the deficit to within 13 with plenty of time left — forcing Prep head coach Antonio Hudson to put his starters back in to seal the victory after a big run from the Cougars.

While Hudson was pleased his group won district, he had to start his postgame thoughts on a third quarter that saw Creek (12-11, 1-4) outscore his squad 17-7 and nearly mount a comeback.

“It’s been a consistent thing all year,” Hudson said. “Execution when we get to a certain point. We were up by 25 at the half and come out and forcing them to guard us man-to-man and then when we start doing things out of character. And what I express to them at halftime is you try to win on the road in the playoffs, you have to be able to do those things. It does us no good to try and run the score up and keep doing that when we gotta get better at executing.”

Creek jumped out to an early 8-4 lead, getting good minutes from Connor Johnson and Brett Bell on the offensive end. But the Panthers began to mount their will on the Cougars and hit back- to- back threes from Amarjae Young and Trumarion Smith within the final 45 seconds of the frame to pull ahead 19-12 after the first.

From there, Lincoln Prep put its foot down and took the game over on a blistering second quarter with Young getting steals and transition layups and Trey Spann nailing two threepointers to propel the Panthers to a 36-16 lead with two minutes before halftime and 43-18 at the break.

Creek came out halftime with better intensity and began jumping passing lanes and taking a page out of Prep’s book by turning good mandefense into transition offense, leading to a 12-0 Creek run to cut it to 4330 with just over three minutes left in the third.

Hudson put his starters back in to make sure the cold stretch didn’t continue and maintained a 50-35 lead entering the fourth.

The momentum sparked by the Cougars flickered away quickly as Prep once again took advantage of sloppy offense by Creek and ran up and down the court for easy offense. Halfway through the fourth, Hudson pulled his starters for good and let his reserves take care of the rest and close out the district title.

Creek finished with over 20 turnovers once again in the matchup and had trouble with Prep’s man defense, fullcourt press, traps and overall ball pressure all night that made the blowout what it was.

Amarjae Young and Stephen Burks led Prep with 20- point efforts each, with Young putting up 21 points and 7 steals, and Burks finishing with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists. Spann scored 14 points with a team-high three three-pointers as well.

“He struggled a couple games and so he’s been putting in work at five o’ clock in the morning working on his game at Tech intramural,” Hudson said of Spann. “He knows it’s a problem and he wants to get better at it and that’s the thing about him. He came in shot the ball well tonight, so that was a good thing. On any given night, we have four to five people that can get us 15 to 17. And that’s a good thing going down the stretch.

Cedar Creek was led by Connor Johnson (11 points) and Jake Doan (14 points). Jack Bell added 7 points as well.

“We did some good things. Lincoln Prep is just, top to bottom, fast, they have one of the best coaches in the state of Louisiana and he does an outstanding job, and they have a lot of good players and they listen to him,” Creek head coach Lance Waldron said after the loss. “And when you have all those things, it’s tough to beat. I’m proud of what we did and I’m proud of the guys and how they played and doing what we wanted to do. They’re just better top to bottom.”

Lincoln Prep will close district play on the road at Ouachita Christian (10- 15, 1-4) Thursday, while Cedar Creek closes district back at home against St. Frederick (12-10, 3-2) Thursday.