Boys basketball: Lincoln handles Washington behind JT Rock's 30 points
The Iowa State-bound center dominates on both ends in city rivalry win.
The No. 2 Lincoln boys didn't exactly come into Thursday night's rivalry clash against Washington with a lot of momentum.
"Yesterday was probably the worst practice we've had," said coach Jeff Halseth. His players agreed.
But the Patriots decided the best way to shake that off was to forget about game plans, or scouts - even their opponent.
The Pats were tired - this was their fourth game in seven days - and Halseth sensed that fatigue was more mental than physical. So his message before they took the floor against the Warriors was a simple one.
"Go have fun."
It worked, almost immediately.
Lincoln used an 18-2 run to take control in the first quarter, dominating play and going up by as much as 23 on their way to an 80-68 win over the Warriors at the Lincoln gym.
JT Rock, the 7-foot-1 center, who has committed to play at Iowa State, had a monster game to lead the way, finishing with 30 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Elliot Whitney added 21 points and Tate Shafer had 14. The Pats (10-1) made 15-of-32 from 3-point land, zipping the ball effectively along the perimeter and getting Rock enough inside touches to make sure there was always room for a jump shot no matter how many 3's fell.
"It was important to come out together and play hard and be on the same page all the way and we did that," said Rock, who was 10-of-12 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from outside the arc. "We shared the ball really well and were connected every step of the way."
Whitney scored nine straight points in the first quarter to put the Pats in front after a slow first couple minutes, and the lead was 12 by the end of the quarter.
Washington had a good day from the arc, too, going 10-of-25, but they had difficulty getting inside. They challenged Rock probably more than they should have, as the blocks came fast and furious for the 7-footer. Though he was credited with five blocks he impacted or changed perhaps a dozen.
"If they want to keep coming in the lane I'll go meet 'em," Rock said. "I just take that as what I do. That's my job - to defend the paint and contest and block shots."
AJ Akot had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Warriors (5-4), while Mandalla Mohamed had 12 points and nine boards and Cole Peterson had 12 points. The Warriors grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, but shooting 33% from the floor kept them from making a serious run.
That wasn't for a lack of effort, but the Patriots were simply too sharp on this night.
"You could kind of feel the energy before the game," Whitney said. "This is a special group of guys. We're pretty mature, so after (Wednesday's poor practice) we said let's buckle down and lock in on this game. We came out with energy and things just clicked."