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December 12, 2008Lincoln's first nationally televised match-up against Duncanville (TX) in some ways appeared to be just like many games in the PSAL.
Lincoln had the best player on the floor.
But unlike many games against PSAL competition having the best player was not enough for the Railsplitters (ranked #1 by NYCHoops.net) who fell to the Panthers 87 to 67 Thursday evening. Senior guard Lance Stephenson was outstanding, scoring a game-high 32 points while shooting 13 of 21 from the field. The 6-foot-7 guard nicknamed 'Born Ready' along with senior classmate Darwin Ellis brought Lincoln back from what appeared to be a blowout as the Railsplitters fell behind 20 to 4 in the first half.
Stephenson and Ellis' efforts gave Lincoln a one point lead heading into halftime and appeared that the Railsplitters had all of the momentum. However, momentum is only as good as your last shot. In the second half, the Panthers of Duncansville made more shots than the Railsplitters and that proved to be the difference. Duncansville's Perry Jones and Texas signee Shawn Williams (19 points) proved to be too much in the paint for Lincoln to handle.
While Stephenson's performance was stellar, his points did not come easily. Duncansville did an excellent job of consistently sending two defenders at him in order to deny him the ball. They allowed Stephenson to burn them but other than Ellis' spark in the first half the rest of the Railsplitters supporting cast was silent.
The Panthers would take a 52-43 lead into the fourth quarter after outscoring Lincoln in the third. It was a lead they would never relinquish. After trailing by as many as 13 points in the fourth, Stephenson scored four consecutive points to cut the deficit to nine. With 4:37 left to go in the period, Stephenson knocked down two free throws after being fouled. Lincoln then forced Duncansville into a 10 second violation with a full-court press. On the next possession Stephenson abused the Panthers frontline for a spin, pivot followed by a vicious slam in traffic. That was as close as Lincoln would get with the score 60 to 51. The Panthers would close the game on a 17-6 run to hand the Railsplitters their first loss of the season.
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