HUNTINGBURG - Patience made the difference Tuesday night as Vincennes Lincoln basketball men rallied to a 62-59 overtime win over Princeton Community in game two of the 3A Southridge sectional in Huntingburg's Memorial Gym.
The No. 12 ranked Tigers, before closing with a 19-5 record, their best since the 2008-09 State Championship season, led 26-15 and 28-17 in the second quarter despite the Alices’ early barrage of 3-point hits. But Vincennes Lincoln gradually came back, forged a 33-33 tie in the second quarter, led 48-47 with a little over a minute left in the fourth, and forced overtime when junior Hunter Hopwood made a driving layup with seven seconds left in regulation.
Zach Dove, the game’s top scorer with 25 points, gave Princeton its' last lead by scoring from Stephan Wilkerson’s pass in the first possession of the four-minute overtime. But a three by junior Isaac Lane put the Alices ahead to stay, and their win became official when Tigers senior Rylin Stough saw his last second 3-point try bounce off of the rim.
To the Tigers chagrin, this was a repeat of recent history. Just as the Alices’ avenged a 75-69 regular-season lost by winning 59-49 in the 2017 sectional, Tuesday’s result avenged Princeton’s 52-51 December 15th win in Alice Arena.
Coach Josh Thompson Alice’s, 17th in this weeks Associated Press 3A state wide poll, will take a 16-8 record vs Washington (9-13) in Friday’s second semi final. Sullivan (18-6) beat Pike Central 42-33 in Tuesday’s opener and will face Southridge (10-12) in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. CST opener. A new sectional champion is assured, as Pike Central, sectional champion the past two years, closed with an 11-12 record.
Princeton fans will always wonder how Tuesday’s second game would have ended had junior guard Stephan Wilkerson been able to play the distance. But Wilkerson sat out several minutes when injured in a collision on which he was whistled for a charging foul with a minute and a half left in the third period. He returned two minutes into the fourth quarter but did not add to his 21-point total.
“Stephan sprained his ankle, and after that he was not moving around well,” Tiger coach Ryan Haywood said. “Vincennes hit some big threes, and we did not capitalize when we had the lead in the first half. We were getting defensive stops, but we were not scoring. Later we made a lot of bone headed plays that were not typical of us. Nineteen wins is a great season, but we did not accomplish our goals.”
Spencer Carona, who hit two threes in the first quarter, before the Tigers became 19-12 leaders, led the Alices with 16 points. Hopwood, his 6-2 classmate, scored 15. Senior Tate Schuckman scored 17 including a trio of threes, two of them in the fourth quarter. Lane, scored five overtime points to finish with 10.
“Our team motto ‘Stay Hitched.’ That was a Gunner Wyman motto” Thompson said of the former Lincoln coach. “As we tell our kids, you’ll miss some shots and miss some rebounds. The other team will hit shots. But we weathered the storm, and our patience was a big part of this. We kept moving the ball around and working for shots.”
The Alices hit 11 3-point shots to the Tigers’ two, both by Wilkerson. The Tigers, down three points twice in the overtime moved within 60-59 when senior Nick Albin hit a running six-footer with 12 seconds left. But Shuckman hit two free throws at nine seconds forcing Princeton to attempt a three on which Stough was contested in the final seconds.