They felt they made a statement.
Lincoln’s boys basketball team cruised to a 69–53 victory over Queens High School of Teaching at the Cardozo Classic on Feb. 4, proving that the Railsplitters are the team to beat in the city.
“Coach said they were a very strong team, so we needed to be hungry,” said senior point guard Donald Flores. “We wanted to prove our point and show that we’re the best out here. Nobody can mess with us.”
Lincoln (18–1) and Teaching both came into the game riding solid win streaks, but the Railsplitters grabbed momentum from the get-go, draining shots and jumping out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
It was more than enough to set the tempo of the non-league tilt and give the Railsplitters squad an extra spark in its collective step.
“We had a great warm-up,” said senior Klay Brown, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “Everybody got their shots up and they were starting to fall. That’s who we are.”
Lincoln jumped out to a 23–11 lead after the first eight minutes of play, keeping the Tigers from hitting a shooting stride as the defense settled into its rhythm. Of course, it also helped that the Railsplitters were dominant on the glass.
The squad out-rebounded Teaching by double digits in the first quarter alone, limiting the Tigers to one-and-done possessions before pushing the ball out in transition.
“That’s our game,” said Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton. “I figure if we can match their transition game, it was just about who rebounded and played better defense.”
Lincoln held a double-digit lead at the break, but the Railsplitters didn’t let off the gas in the second half. The key was defense and, most importantly, forcing Teaching into off-kilter shots — the Tigers struggled to drive the lane throughout the game.
“Every time we go out, we try our best to play defense,” said Flores, who chipped in 12 points. “I feel we’re a good defensive team, but we went out and played defense even harder against them because we know they’re one of the best teams in the city.”
The Tigers made it a nine-point game with just under two minutes left in the third, but that was as close as the squad would get. Lincoln closed out the quarter on a 5–2 run and led by double digits throughout the fourth.
Brown racked up 15 points in the second half, a spark plug for the Railsplitters on both sides of the ball all the way through the final buzzer.
“He’s from Queens, so we thought he was going to not play well,” Morton said. “I thought he was going to have some butterflies. He was amazing today.”
Lincoln put four players in double digits — including freshman guard John Wilson and senior guard Michael Reid who each finished with 11 points.
It was a statement-making victory for the Railsplitters — a team that hasn’t lost a game since December — against a Teaching squad that dominated its schedule in Queens. Now, Lincoln has its sights set on a return to postseason glory, and the team is hopeful a win like this is the first step towards another city title.
“We wanted to show that we were the No. 1 team in the city and let everyone know that’s what we are,” Brown said.