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Lincoln playoff run ends at hands of Sac High

By: Galen Kusic, Special to The News Messenger
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The Lincoln Zebras' playoff run ended abruptly Friday, as the top-seeded Sacramento Dragons dominated in all facets of the game toward an impressive 86-43 victory. The win over Lincoln, the No. 8 seed, gives the Dragons a perfect record (11-0) on their home court this season . Twenty-six of Dragons' senior guard Chase Tapley's 33 points came in the first half, as Sacramento went up 49-30 at the break and never looked back. Relentless defense and constant ball-pressure from the Dragons forced Lincoln out of their half-court offense, creating numerous fast break opportunities for Sacramento. "We came out a little bit scared," said Lincoln senior guard Mark Murphy. "Give them credit, they weren't missing for a while. We couldn't stop their threes. We just fell behind and couldn't get back into it." Lincoln scored just 13 points in the second half, as the Dragons began the third quarter with a 15-0 run led by three's from Tapley and junior guard Travon Abraham. "We thought we could man them, but then they stopped missing," said Lincoln coach Mike Murphy. "We played really nervous. Once they made their run, we stopped playing with confidence." Lincoln's one bright spot was Keenan Hale, who put up 22 points in the loss. "The big guy (Hale) just beasted us," said Sacramento coach Derek Swafford. "He's gonna be a great kid. We're not rebounding well, and quite frankly he just killed us on the boards." Tapley got his 33 in three quarters, as he ended his night with a put-back at the third quarter buzzer to give Sacramento a 71-38 advantage. Abraham poured in 20 points for the Dragons, and senior guard Denzel Pruitt did all the little things well, contributing 12 as Sacramento moves on to the semifinals. The Dragons improve to 22-6, while Lincoln falls to 21-8 on the year. "When you've got the bullseye on your back, every team is going to give you their best shot," said Swafford. "You don't just make the playoffs, Lincoln's a good team. We just try to get a feel for the game and let it come to us." The loss ends an impressive season for Lincoln, as Sacramento moves on to face No. 5-seeded Whitney in the Division III semifinal at Galt High on Wednesday night.