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By Paul Henry, Staff Writer
Falcon Basketball Coach Chad Tipps can update his résumé as Lincoln County will make its first appearance in the District 8-AAA Tournament Championship game in more than a decade.
The last time the Falcons won the title was in 1996.
Last year’s team took the regular season district title, but Lawrence County sent the Falcons to the consolation game in the semifinals.
As a third place seed, Lincoln County matched up again with Lawrence County and took the win in a barnburner, 61-59. The ‘Cats had made it to the championship the past three seasons.
The Falcons advanced to the semifinals defeating Shelbyville Friday night.
In a Cinderella fashion, this year it’s a three-seed taking on a five as the Falcons host Franklin County for the title Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
The Rebels advanced to the championship, defeating the one-seed Tullahoma Wildcats, 56-45.
Lawrence County and Tullahoma will square off in the consolation game Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys in the way they battled tonight,” said Coach Tipps. “About a month ago, we talked about how we should have finished a little tougher last year. When we were down by 11 in the third, I asked them if they were going to step up and play or not. The guys finished well down the stretch, and we finished with the win.
“We’re excited about hosting Franklin County for the championship,” Tipps added. “We’re going to play hard, and we’re going to give Lincoln County something to be proud of. We’re proud to be a part of Lincoln County, and I hope everyone will come out and support this team.”
Saturday night’s game with the Wildcats was a game of runs with the Falcons playing catch-up the majority of the game.
The ‘Cats were up 16-11 at the end of one. With 3:18 in the second, the Falcons trailed by 10, down 27-17. But, Lincoln County got on a 12-2 run in the remainder of the period. Tradarius Christian dropped two from the line with 5 seconds on the clock, and it was knotted at 29-29 at the break.
Early in the third, Lawrence County nailed back-to-back threes and were up by 11, 42-31, with 2:30 in the quarter. But again, the Falcons came back – B.J. Thompson tipped one in at the buzzer, and Lincoln County trailed 46-44 at the end of three.
With 6:02 in the fourth, Xavier Talley-Hyde scored, knotting it at 49-49. At the 5:35 mark, Christian dropped two from the line, giving the Falcons their first lead of the game, up 51-49. From that point on, the lead would change or be tied nine times.
In the Falcons’ final possession tied at 59-59, Christian was fouled while taking it to the basket with 2.2 seconds remaining in the game. Christian dropped both shots from the stripe to put Lincoln County up 61-59. The Wildcats took a desperation shot from mid-court that rimmed out at the buzzer, and the Falcons finished with the win.
Christian led for Lincoln County with 18 points. B.J. Thompson had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards; Ty Hadley scored 10; Justin Blackwell had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards; Talley-Hyde scored 7; and Ty Lewter had 3.
The Falcons were 17 of 36 from the paint and 2 of 9 from the arch with threes coming from Talley-Hyde and Lewter. From the line, Lincoln County was 21-30.
LCHS won the boards, 39-33. The Falcons had 13 turnovers to 12 for the Wildcats.
In the first round of district tournament action, Lincoln County had an easy time defeating Shelbyville, 66-35, Friday night.
The Eagles were without three starters from their previous match-ups who were removed from the team for a violation of team rules. Another Eagle was sidelined due to injury.
The Falcons swept Shelbyville in the regular season, but their second match-up went into overtime.
Friday night it was all about LCHS with the Falcons up 17-6 at the end of one.
Lincoln County kept their foot on the gas in the second, winning the period 18-7. The Falcons were up 35-13 at the break.
Coach Tipps went to his bench in the second half, giving everyone minutes on the floor. LCHS won the two periods, 31-22, to finish with the win.
Ten Falcons put points on the board. B.J. Thompson led with 20; Talley-Hyde followed with 10; Lewter, 9; Blackwell, 8; Christian, 6; Jones, 5; Jaquez Thompson, 3; Cameron Boyd and Riley Malone, 2; and Hadley had 1.
LCHS picked up 23 points off turnovers and won the boards, 34-25.