By: Luke Drase
It’s funny how much of a difference a week can make.
Coming into their game against 19th ranked Uplift, Lincoln Park were off to a rocky start to the season after losing two of their four games at the Loyola/New Trier Thanksgiving tournament.
But on Wednesday night in the Lions Den, Lincoln Park fought off a ferocious comeback attempt by Uplift to win 87-84, claiming their first win against the Titans since the 2011-12 season.
“We came into the game to make a statement,” said Lincoln Park forward Terrence Shannon. “We got taken out of the Team Rose tournament for Uplift and we really wanted to show that we were supposed to be in that tournament.”
Lincoln Park certainly came out of the gate as the aggressors. Two monster dunks from Bill Flowers and Shannon, got the Lincoln Park crowd into the game straight away and helped settle the Lions.
Even after the initial adrenaline rush wore off, Lincoln Park continued to pile it on Uplift. Shannon scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half and was complimented by an impressive shooting performance from the rest of the Lincoln Park squad.
“The main thing was to not be intimidated by them,” added Lincoln Park head coach Pat Gordon. “Once you get past seeing the name on the jersey and seeing what they’re ranked, it’s just basketball, and we can play with anybody in the city.”
Though Lincoln Park put on an impressive offensive display, the main reason they earned their 48-31 halftime lead was due to their defense on Kansas commit Markese Jacobs.
Lincoln Park held Jacobs to a single first half point and frustrated him to an extent where he was forced out of the game after committing two early fouls.
Lincoln Park guard Ismail Habib said: “We just tried to force him left and play help side defense on him. We know he can score the ball, and we just did our best to stay in front of him.”
“We had a great understanding of our team defense and honestly some of it was just some luck,” said Gordon. “To win games like that a little luck is required. They missed some shots they usually hit but they’re a great team, they’re ranked number 19 in the state for a reason.”
After a frustrating first half, the start of the second half saw a much more composed Uplift take the floor. With Jacobs still struggling to find his rhythm, Michael Flenory stepped up to help generate some offense for the Titans.
However, Lincoln Park always seemed to have a response and managed to maintain their 17 point lead entering the fourth quarter.
For most of the final quarter, Lincoln Park held a comfortable double digit lead. The Lions looked poised to take the game running away, until Jacobs started to come alive.
Down 12 with just over two minutes to play, the junior point guard put Uplift on his back, hitting a three, driving the lane, and getting fouled while shooting a three pointer on two separate occasions to bring the Titans within one.
With less than 15 seconds left in the contest, Uplift needed to force a turnover or foul on the following inbounds play, but Lincoln Park’s Chris Roberts somehow jumped over two defenders to corral the ball and race away to seal the 87-84 win with a layup.
Roberts laughed while recalling the final play: “I just jumped as high as I could. I had to get that ball and score, there was no other option and we needed that win.”
Lincoln Park was lead by Roberts, who finished with a game high 20 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Shannon finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams will next play this upcoming Friday. Lincoln Park will host Von Steuben while Uplift will look to turn their season around with a home game against Westinghouse.