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It had been 17 years in the making as Lincoln County High School’s Falcons defeated Franklin County, 59-48, for the District 8-AAA Tournament championship Tuesday night in a rare three seed vs. five seed match-up.
The last time Lincoln County claimed the title game was in 1996.
This year marked Coach Chad Tipps’ first trip to the championship game in his nine years at the helm. The Falcons advanced to the big dance, defeating the two-seed Lawrence County in the semi-finals. The Rebels came into the match-up after upsetting the number one seed Tullahoma Wildcats.
The win sent the Falcons to the Region 4 Tournament where they hosted LaVergne’s Wolverines and went down in a one-point heartbreaker.
The Falcons wrap up their season with a 19-12 record.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” said Coach Tipps. “They should have no regrets at all. I know a loss like LaVergne hurts, but we played at a high level against a team that made it to the sub-state last year and had four starters returning. We couldn’t ask more out of them.
“I want to thank the community for the support they’ve shown,” Coach Tipps added. “In 1991, Lincoln County hosted a sub-state game; the regionals were played for years on a neutral court. Since that time, I feel like this was the most important game we’ve played in our gym, and the crowd came out to cheer on the Falcons.
“We had some guys really step up down the stretch of the season and got the job done,” he added. “It’s one of the easiest groups I’ve ever coached. They’ve raised the bar for Falcon basketball to come and should be proud.”
Seniors wrapping up their careers on the hardwood are Tradarius Christian, Ty Lewter, B.J. Thompson, Justin Blackwell and Riley Malone.
Tradarius Christian and B.J. Thompson received All-District 8-AAA and All-District 8-AAA Tournament honors. Christian was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player.
The Falcons defeated Franklin County, 59-48, for the tournament title. In the first quarter, both teams swapped baskets. Tyler Jones hit a three at the buzzer, and the Falcons were up, 15-12, at the end of one.
Lincoln County won the second frame, 10-5. It was Xavier Talley-Hyde who rocked a three at the buzzer this time, and LCHS was up 25-17 at the break.
Early in the third, the Falcons enjoyed their largest lead of the game, up 29-17 with 5:55 on the clock. But, the Rebels were not going away. Franklin County went on a 14-5 run in the next four minutes. With 1:24, it was a three-point ball game with the Falcons up 34-31.
B.J. Thompson added a score, and Tradarius Christian added three the old fashion way with a basket and shot from the line. At the end of three, Lincoln County was up 39-31.
The Rebels kept the game in single digits most of the final frame. With 1:29 remaining in the game, the Falcons were up by five, 53-48. In the final minute, Ty Hadley dropped two from the line, B.J. Thompson scored in the paint and Talley-Hyde made a pair from the stripe, and the Falcons had the win, 59-48.
B.J. Thompson led the scoring with 16 points. Tradarius Christian scored 12; Justin Blackwell had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds; Xavier Talley-Hyde had 7; and Ty Hadley and Tyler Jones scored 6.
From the paint, Lincoln County was 20 of 31 and 3 of 9 from the arch. From the line, the Falcons were 10 of 14. Jones had two from downtown, Talley-Hyde had one.
Lincoln County won the boards, 29-21. The Falcons had 10 turnovers; the Rebels had 9.
Saturday night in the first round of Region 4 action, the Falcons went down in a heartbreaker, 65-64.
Last year the Wolverines defeated Lincoln County by three in region play. With four starters returning, LaVergne hung on for a one-point win in 2013.
The Falcons jumped on the Wolverines early, up 13-2 with 3:06 in the first. But, LaVergne went on a 9-2 run in the remainder of the period, and Lincoln County was up 15-11 at the end of one.
LCHS hung on to the lead all of the second quarter. Both teams picked up 20 points in the eight minutes, and the Falcons were on top 35-31 at the break.
LaVergne took their first lead of the night with 6:46 in the third. At the 1:47 mark, the Falcons trailed 51-45. But, Xavier Talley-Hyde hit a three, and LCHS trailed 51-48 at the end of three.
In the fourth, the lead changed four times. With 3:47 in the period, the Falcons were up 61-56, but LaVergne got back in the game with back-to-back 3-pointers. At the 1:38 mark, Christian put the Falcons up 63-62. But, the Wolverines were fouled while making a basket and followed with a shot from the line with 46 seconds remaining in the game.
Trailing by one, Lincoln County put up a shot in the paint in the final seconds that didn’t fall, and LaVergne finished with the win, 65-64.
Christian set the pace with 26 points. B.J. Thompson had 17; Justin Blackwell, 9; Talley-Hyde, 7; Jones, 3; and Hadley scored 2.
The Falcons were 22 of 38 from inside and 3 of 6 from the arch. From the stripe, they were 11 of 16.
LCHS won the boards, 30-26. Lincoln County picked up 16 points of 15 turnovers. The Wolverines added 15 off 18 Falcon miscues.