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5 Thoughts on Lincoln Northeast’s Win at Lincoln Southwest Plus a Record-Setting Night

January 21, 2022

Lincoln Northeast fell behind 11-0 out of the gates at Lincoln Southwest on Thursday night, but the Rockets rallied to pull out a 55-51 win and improve to 12-2 on the season.

Elsewhere, two separate 3-point records — one individual and one team — fell on Thursday night.

Here are five thoughts on all of that action.

Foul-Fest

Points were at a Premium at the Nest on Thursday night as the shooting was as cold as the air outside the building. Northeast shot 38.9% from the field. Southwest was even worse at 34.5%. The teams combined to shoot 6-of-27 from 3 with three makes apiece.

The difference proved to be the free-throw line in a game that featured 37 fouls and 48 free throws. The Rockets did a better job of getting to the line as the Silver Hawks accounted for 22 of those fouls, and Northeast shot well enough at the charity stripe to get the win — 24-of-32 (75%). Every Rocket who saw the floor earned at least one trip to the line, and Northeast shot 9-of-12 overall in the fourth to hold onto the lead after taking a 44-37 edge into the final frame.

Southwest gave itself a chance down the stretch. Northeast lead by eight with three minutes to play when the Silver Hawks knocked down a 3, forced a turnover and hit a pair of free throws to make it 49-46 with 2:23 to play. Southwest forced another turnover with its press, but couldn’t capitalize with a tough missed 3.

Northeast cut it to three again with 40 seconds left and then to two with 4.9 to play, but the Rockets went 6-for-8 at the stripe in the final 100 seconds to fend off the rally.

Zander Beard: Bucket-Getter

Friday night was a rough one offensively for most of the Rockets, but that wasn’t the case for senior Zander Beard. The 6-foot-1 guard scored in a variety of ways en route to a game-high 21 points on 5-of-8 from the field (1-of-1 from 3) and 10-of-11 from the foul line.

Beard has a tight handle and uses good footwork and head fakes to create opportunities around the basket. After a slow start to the season from the arc, he’s 10-of-19 in his last six games including sinking his only attempt on Friday. He converted three different three-point plays against the Silver Hawks as well.

Beard scored 11 of Northeast’s 17 points in the third quarter to turn a two-point halftime lead into a seven-point advantage heading into the fourth. He opened the quarter with a 3, then converted two three-point plays including one on a possession where he pulled down two different offensive boards before finally finishing himself through contact.

Beard hasn’t been the team’s leading scorer this season — that would be junior guard Christian Winn — but he is certainly capable of going off in any given game like he did on Thursday.

Fighting to the Finish

Just like the Rockets, most of the Silver Hawks had a night they’d probably like to forget. The lone exception was senior Ben Hunzeker who led the way with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and 2-of-4 from the foul line with seven rebounds (three offensive), two assists, two steals and one block.

Hunzeker set the tone for the night with a steal and breakaway dunk early in the first quarter, part of an 11-0 start for the Silver Hawks. He scored a game-high six points in the period to lead Southwest to a 17-11 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.

Hunzeker (like the rest of the Silver Hawks) was quiet in the second and third quarters, but he came alive late and nearly led the Silver Hawks all the way back. He scored 11 points including a 3-pointer and three tough finishes around the rim to make it a one-possession game late, but Southwest couldn’t get over the hump.

Hunzeker is one of the more versatile players in Lincoln, averaging 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals as a 6-foot-3 guard this season.

Rocketing to the Top

Thursday was Northeast’s second win over the Silver Hawks this season, and this one came at Southwest. The Rockets beat the Silver Hawks 65-61 in overtime in the HAC Tournament semifinals to punch their ticket to the final, where they beat Lincoln Pius X to claim the title. Pius won the rematch, but that’s the lone blemish in city competition so for this season.

Lincoln Northeast is now 6-1 against other Lincoln schools. Pius, who entered the season as the highest-ranked team in Lincoln, is 3-3 and just lost to a Lincoln High team last week that had one win heading into the game. Southwest is now 2-2 including a win over Pius.

With a solid and well-balanced seven-man rotation that is pretty salty on defense, Northeast has jumped out to a big lead in the chase for a city title with two games remaining (against Lincoln Southeast on Saturday and at Lincoln North Star on Feb. 4.

Record-Setting Night

The two teams at Southwest may have had a tough shooting night, but that wasn’t the case elsewhere in the state as two different 3-point records fell.

First, the Fremont girls shot the lights out in a dominant 81-42 win against Lincoln Southeast. Led by Iowa commit Taylor McCabe, the Tigers shot 21-of-40 from deep, a state record for made 3-pointers in a single game.

McCabe finished with 33 points herself including 9-of-12 from deep. Sophomore McKenna Murphy added 19 point and was 5-of-8 from 3. Senior Bella Keaton, a Briar Cliff commit, chipped in 11 points and was 3-of-4 from deep.

McCabe is a career 41.6% 3-point shooter and is second all-time in careers 3s with 338. If she continues at her current rate of 3.5 3s per game the rest of the way, she’ll surpass 2014 Minden graduate Brooke Kissinger’s state record of 363 before the end of the regular season.

On the boys side, we already have a new career 3-pointers record holder after a big night from Loomis senior Quinn Johnson. The UNK commit entered Thursday’s game against Alma six 3s behind Ainsworth’s Brady Delimont. He proceeded to hit 10 of them in the first half before tacking on two more in the third quarter, taking an early seat in an 80-37 win.

Here’s the record-setting shot.

Johnson shot 12-of-17, topping his previous best of 10-of-16 in a 75-43 win against Pleasanton last season. He’s a career 41% shooter, but he’s more than just a shooter. He’s grown into a terrific rebounder over the past two season, notching 14 double-doubles during that span. He has 12 career games of 30-plus points including 42 in an 81-36 win against Brady and 41 in an 83-45 win against Potter-Dix, both last season.

Johnson still has half a season to add to his lead. I get the feeling this record is going to stand for a while.

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