Abraham Lincoln finally avenged its early season loss to rival Thomas Jefferson when the teams met on the Railsplitters’ home court last Friday night
Senior forward Greg Poleon did more than his part to ensure the Railsplitters’ victory, heeding the coaching staff’s rallying call.
“They told me before the game, ‘Protect the house,’ ” he said of the coaches’ pre-game message. “We came out here and we did it.”
Poleon poured in 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked four shots to lead Lincoln to an 82–77 victory over Jefferson in front of a packed house in Brooklyn AA boys’ basketball Feb. 6. He scored 12 of his points during Lincoln 30–9 run over the second and third quarters that gave it control of the game. It was his best game of the season and one in which he out-scored Jefferson’s entire frontcourt combined.
“Greg had a great game,” said Lincoln coach Kenny Pretlow. “I couldn’t be more happy for a senior stepping up the way he did in this atmosphere.”
Jahlil Tripp had 19 points and 16 rebounds to push Lincoln forwards in its dominance of the paint and the backboards. Tyler Bourne added 16 points, Paul Person had 11, and Donald Flores had 8. Ezekiel Charles grabbed 12 rebounds and held Jefferson star Shamorie Ponds to just 19 points after he went for 36 in the teams’ first meeting.
“It was like gutcheck time,” Pretlow said. “These guys referenced back and said ‘we are not losing.’ The last huddle, coach was saying ‘we are not losing that game.’ ”
The Railsplitters, leading by 11 points in the third quarter, still needed to hold off a fierce Orange Wave run to secure the victory. Lincoln (21–2) used a 7–0 spurt to grab a 74–66 advantage with 2:25 to play in the game. Jefferson (21–3) got as close as 74–72 with 1:21 to go on a layup by Ponds, but Flores went a perfect four-of-four from the free throw line in the final minute to keep the Orange Wave at bay.
“I just had to take my time at the free throw line and knock them down and keep my team going,” said Flores, who had ended the first half with a steal and a three-point play.
Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard felt his team didn’t show the same poise as Lincoln at times, and his forwards had a rough time. Guard Jaquan McKennon led the way with 23 points, and Rasheen Dunn added 21. The Orange Wave didn’t give its offense enough time to develop and gave up too many second-chance points.
“We were impatient,” Pollard said. “Guys started taking some ill-advised shots. We didn’t play selfish. We were just a little impatient on offense.”
The two teams may not have to wait long to get another crack at each other. Top-seeded Jefferson and No. 2 Lincoln are the favorites to meet in the borough final on Valentine’s Day with one of the top seeds in the citywide playoffs at stake. Lincoln heads into the postseason with plenty of confidence.
“We are young and have limited experience,” Flores said. “That was our first real, real big game that we pulled out toward the end.”