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January 11, 2008

Lance-less Lincoln destroys Jefferson

One would think that minus a superstar like Lance Stephenson, Lincoln would at least struggle on Thursday night against Thomas Jefferson, a quality PSAL opponent.


The Railsplitters had no such issue, however, cruising 76-52 at home over the Orange Wave, with Stephenson watching from the crowd in street clothes.

Stephenson, the ballyhooed junior guard, was involved in an altercation with teammate Devon McMillan on Wednesday, after which McMillan had to receive stitches for a cut on his hand. As punishment for his involvement, Stephenson was suspended from school for five days and was therefore ineligible to play in Lincoln's tilt with Jefferson on Thursday.

The Railsplitters showed no signs of shellshock early on, jumping on Jefferson and building a 9-2 lead to start the game. The Orange Wave would respond with an 8-2 spurt to cut the Lincoln lead to 11-10, but the home team answered back with a 12-4 run to close the first quarter in front 23-14. Jefferson would never truly recover from that sequence.

Dominating the paint and forcing Jefferson into low-percentage shots, Lincoln stretched its lead from there. With 4:08 remaining in the second, the Railsplitters went on top by 14, when a dunk by junior center James Padget off a feed from senior guard Khalif Staten put Lincoln ahead 31-17. Lincoln would lead by that same margin going into the break.

Similarly to Canarsie in the Chiefs' game against Lincoln on Tuesday, the underdog Orange Wave came out fighting in the third, creating steals and transition buckets.

Also like Canarsie, however, Jefferson could muster only an even - 17-17 - quarter despite its best efforts, and once again like Canarsie, the Orange Wave would prove too tired to hang with Lincoln in the fourth.

The Railsplitters quickly turned their formidable 53-39 end-of-third lead into an insurmountable fourth quarter lead, going on a 13-1 run to open up by 26 at 66-40 with 5:42 to go.

Senior forward Justin Greene was the major contributor for Lincoln in Stephenson's absence, racking up 24 points and nine rebounds. Padget also corralled 13 rebounds for the Railsplitters. Sophomore forward Joel Wright led Jefferson with 14 points.

While Stephenson spent the night in the stands, Jefferson's go-to guy, Keith Spellman might as well have joined him. The junior guard had a miserable game, managing just three points for the Orange Wave.

Lincoln travels to Virginia to play I.C. Norcom this Saturday, making for an interesting call on Stephenson's eligibility, considering that the game is out of state and not a PSAL-sanctioned game. After the game, Lincoln head coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton and Principal Ari Hoogenboom both refused to specify when Stephenson would return.

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