Star forward leads Lincoln to big win over Jefferson
The Lincoln Railsplitters beat the Jefferson Orange Wave 82-77 in front of a packed gym at Lincoln High School in Coney Island Friday night to finish the season in a first-place tie in the Brooklyn AA division
“It was just a gut-check time,” said Lincoln’s first-year head coach Kenny Pretlow. “These guys said they were not losing. In the last huddle, they said, ‘Coach, we’re not losing this game.’”
It was a close game for the entire 32 minutes and one that Lincoln likely would not have pulled out, had it not been for senior forward Greg Poleon. Poleon was a monster on both offense and defense as he outscored all of Jefferson’s forwards combined 17-15 and had eight rebounds plus six blocks.
“It was a great game, a monster game,” Pretlow said of the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Poleon. “That was his best game in ever. I couldn’t be more proud of a senior to step up in this atmosphere.”
Lincoln (13-1) came out slowly in this game as Jefferson (13-1) had a 20-17 lead behind eight points from Shamorie Ponds in the first quarter. Poleon took over in the second quarter as he established himself on defense and scored 10 points to give the Railsplitters a 45-39 lead at halftime.
Poleon kept it up with seven points in the third quarter, but Jefferson’s Jaquan McKennon had seven of his own as the two teams traded leads a few times. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when Lincoln finally established a slim lead and was able to hold on to it as junior Donald Flores hit four big free throws in the final couple of minutes.
“Over the last couple of weeks, Jefferson has been on our minds,” Poleon said. “They told me to step up. They needed me to score more points and to play strong defense. I couldn’t [let them win on our home court]. We had to protect this house.”
Jefferson beat Lincoln by 12 points the first time these two teams met back in December. It was early in the year, and with three freshmen playing important roles, Lincoln looked much more inexperienced. Ponds also targeted Lincoln with 37 points and a triple-double that night. A more experienced team this time around, Lincoln held Ponds to 19 and limited his damage on defense too.
“Ezekiel Charles told me yesterday, ‘Coach we don’t have to double-team [Ponds]. I’m a senior, and I’m not going to let him beat me on my own court. I got him,’” Pretlow said. “He did a phenomenal job on a kid who gets 30 in his sleep.”
Poleon had 17, but teammate Jahlil Tripp had a team-high 19 points and 16 rebounds and Tyler Bourne had 16 points for Lincoln. McKennon led Jefferson with 23 and Rasheen Dunn had 21.
This rivalry is far from over. Lincoln and Jefferson are the top two teams in Brooklyn and among the elites in all of New York City. They could end up facing each other two more times in the boro playoffs and then again in the citywide playoffs
“They’re a good team,” Pretlow said. “If I have to play these guys two more times, I’m going to faint.”
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