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Whitney rallies to defeat Lincoln, 54-48

Wildcats 12-6 in preseason
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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With just nine seconds remaining in the contest, Whitney’s Evan Orrick sank two free throws to give the Wildcats the cushion needed to defeat Lincoln High School, 54-48, Monday night. The Fighting Zebras appeared determined to send their nearby rivals home with a loss, but the ‘Cats would have none of it. Lincoln led, 35-39, after three quarters, but that only awakened the sleeping giants. “Everyone just relaxed. Early in the game we beat ourselves,” said Whitney senior forward Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick as to the Wildcats’ slow start. “Everyone worries too much about the X’s and O’s, the referees, fans and whatnot. We just came out and played strictly on our ability.” Cope-Fitzpatrick recently rejoined the team after playing in the Under-Armor All America high school football game last week. He had also been visiting UCLA, a school that has been trying to recruit him for football. Also returning to the lineup was Matt Gruber, who appeared his season might be done when he severely injured his ankle in a game against Del Oro. The junior forward showed he was ready to return by scoring 10 points against the Zebras. Orrick helped Whitney turn the corner with a basket at the 5:50 mark of the final period. That gave the ‘Cats a 41-39 lead that Lincoln never took back. Orrick eventually finished the game with 14 points, teammate Nolan Eger added 10 to Whitney’s totals. Cope-Fitzpatrick and Lawaun Clark both came up big on the boards; however, Clark had to leave the game with an injured ankle. Lincoln coach Robert Ash shouldered the blame for his team’s letdown. He said he would have to work on finding ways for his club to get easier baskets. “This is a big game for our guys, obviously. On our schedule this is the one we circled,” said Ash, considering the game was played before a packed house. “We have to play in the 60s, not the 50s, it’s killing us.” Lincoln’s Marcus Salgado and Travis Miskell led the Zebras with 15 points apiece, but couldn’t find the range in the last quarter. Salgado, a sophomore, said nerves may have caused his club to abandon its game plan. “We stopped taking easy shots like we were supposed to,” said Lincoln point guard Marcus Salgado, who finished with 15 points. “It was in our heads. I think we were just nervous.” Whitney opens Capital Athletic League play at Mira Loma, Tuesday. The Matadors have struggled in preseason. The Wildcats will then host 5-11 Rio Americano, Jan. 19. Capital Athletic League Boys Basketball Preseason Standings 2011-‘12 Team W L Off Def Dif Antelope 15 1 66.1 46.6 19.4 Whitney 12 6 56.9 51.9 5.1 Cordova 9 5 58.1 54.1 4.0 El Camino 8 9 57.6 55.8 1.8 R Americano 5 11 59.0 64.3 -5.3 Mira Loma 4 13 38.8 60.6 -21.8 Legend: W-wins, L-loss, Off_offense average, Def-defense average, Dif-difference