High School Roundup: Wrightsell Closes Out Regular Season in Style
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Five Thoughts on Lincoln High’s 54-51 Win Against Lincoln East

December 16, 2022

Lincoln High jumped out to a double-digit lead early then survived a fourth-quarter comeback to hand No. 4 Lincoln East its first lost of the season on Thursday night, 54-51.

Here are five thoughts on the game.

Fantastic Fourth Quarter

Lincoln High put up 22 points in the first quarter and stretched its lead to as much as 13 in the second before the Spartans began getting stops and chipping away at the deficit.

East trailed by nine at halftime and by six at the end of three, putting the Spartans within striking distance heading into the final eight minutes.

East opened the fourth with a 7-0 run put together by Jared Townsley and Carter Tempelmeyer to pull ahead, the first of six fourth-quarter lead changes as the teams went back and forth trading buckets.

Vince Garrett ended East’s run with a tough runner in the paint, but Tempelmeyer answered with a layup on the other end. Andrew Gaines drew a foul and hit two free throws, but Townsley took it hard to the rim for a layup to give East its final lead at 46-45 with less than three and a half minutes to play.

Twelve seconds after Townsley’s layup, Garrett knocked down a 3 to give Lincoln High the lead with just over three minutes to play. Senior reserve Kui Diu made a couple of big plays with a block on defense and a tough layup on the other end to double High’s lead with two minutes to play. The teams traded free throws — two from Tempelmeyer, two from Gaines — to keep it a four-point game before East gave itself a shot to tie the game up with a floater from Carter Mick and a stop on the other end.

East called a timeout with 45.3 to play to draw up a play. The Spartans got two shots around the basket but came up short on both of them and Justin Bolis scored a rebound before getting fouled. He knocked down both shots to extend the lead back to four. Townsley drew a foul with 15.2 on the ensuing possession, but he split the free throws to make it a three-point game.

High came up empty at the charity stripe with 11.0 on the clock, giving East one last chance, but the Links did a good job of blowing up the Spartans’ sideline play and forced them into scramble mode, and Bolis blocked the tying 3-point attempt to secure the victory.

Vince Garrett has Made a Leap

The best player on the floor on Thursday night was Lincoln High senior Vince Garrett, a 6-foot-2 wing. He set a new career-high with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting including 4-of-4 from deep (though he did struggle at the foul line at just 3-for-8) and nine rebounds.

Last season, Garrett averaged 9.2 points for the Links, finishing with as many double-digit scoring games as he did ones in single digits. So far this season, he’s scored 10 or more in all five games including a pair of 20-pieces.

Garrett was the biggest reason for High’s hot start, hitting his first five shots to tie East by himself through eight minutes, 12-12. He stepped up late as well with two huge buckets in the fourth quarter as well including the 3 that gave the Links the lead for good.

Garrett has done most of his damage inside the arc, and he had a couple of tough mid-range shots in addition to his buckets at the rim. However, the biggest difference in the game was his 3-point shot. Garrett shot 3-of-14 beyond the arc in his first four games but knocked down all four of his attempts on Thursday while everyone else in the game combined to shoot 2-for-29.

Shooting Blanks

Lincoln East had topped 70 in its previous two games and had shot 45% from the field or better in each of its first four. The Spartans shot 10-for-22 from 3 in a win over Omaha Central on Saturday and 7-for-16 against Lincoln Southeast in week one.

They just couldn’t get shots to fall on Thursday, however, finishing at 32.7% from the field including a frigid 2-for-20 from 3-point range. The Spartans did a great job of climbing back into the game and went 13-for-16 from the foul line to somewhat offset their struggles from the field, but they came up just a couple of buckets short in the end.

Shooting the ball well was a key for East heading in because the Links had a significant size advantage. East doesn’t start a player taller than 6-foot-3 while Lincoln High has a pair of 6-foot-8 posts plus a 6-foot-6 forward in its rotation. Life in the paint was tough.

Even so, East has a lot to be excited about moving forward, starting with its backcourt of Carter and Carter. Neither Tempelmeyer (17 points, five rebounds, three steals) nor Mick (nine points, two steals) shot the ball up to their standards on Thursday (they were both at 55% from the field and 40% from 3 or better in the first four games).

Mick, a junior, put up 20-plus in each of East’s first two games while Tempelmeyer, a senior who led the city of Lincoln in scoring last season at 17.9 points per game, scored 19 in East’s win against Central. Those two are capable of going off at any given time, and if they’re both hot in the same game, the Spartans can take on anyone.

Big Man Bolis

Garrett led all scorers, but the second-most impactful Link was Justin Bolis, a 6-foot-8 senior center. He fell just short of a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds (four offensive) and was the one making life difficult for the Spartans at the rim with four blocks and a few other altered shots.

Bolis didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter, but he did make some massive plays. First, with his team up one and less than 30 seconds remaining, Bolis — a career 6-for-17 free-throw shooter — calmly stepped to the line and knocked down both shots to give the Links a three-point lead. Then, on the last possession, he was the one who blocked East’s 3-pointer.

Bolis missed his junior season with an injury, so it’s great to see him back on the court and looking bouncy. The points, rebounds and blocks are all career highs, and he threw down a pair of dunks to punctuate the best performance of his career to this point.

City Title Up for Grabs

Thursdays result left both Lincoln East and Lincoln High at 4-1 through five games, putting them atop the city standings in the early going. They’re currently the only two Class A Lincoln teams with wins over other teams from the state’s capital. East knocked off a talented Lincoln Southeast team in its second game and did so without Tempelmeyer (out with an ankle injury). Of course, the Links now have a win over the Spartans.

Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln North Star are all sitting at 3-1 while Southeast and Lincoln Pius X are 2-2. Southwest’s loss was to No. 3 Millard North, Northeast’s loss was to No. 2 Gretna and North Star’s loss was to No. 1 Bellevue West. In addition to the loss to East, Southeast also fell to Millard North in overtime. I’m not seeing any bad losses in that group.

I will certainly continue to track how h city race in Lincoln plays out, because it truly seems like any of these teams can emerge as top dog.

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