Story and photo by Race Archibald

Lincoln Trail used a 9-2 run to open the second half to build a comfortable lead they never relinquished in a 102-90 victory over Lake Land on Monday night at Laker Field House.

Lake Land (1-3) trailed 50-42 at half, and were making it tough on Lincoln Trail (4-0) to extend its lead.

But the Statesmen came out of halftime with more energy than the Lakers, jumping out to a 59-44 lead and prompting Lake Land coach Julian Larry to call a timeout.

“We can’t come out sluggish like that,” Larry said. “We have to learn that we have to come out with the same intensity that we started the game with because that hurt us.”

It was a back-and-forth contest for most of the first half. Lake Land guard Leroy Walker came off the bench and scored 10 points, leading the Lakers in scoring at halftime, but he did not score the remainder of the game.

“He hit a couple 3s that were good for us,” Larry said. “I’d like to see him get to the rim more, attacking and getting to the line. But he’s playing well for us and playing hard.”

Lincoln Trail’s surge in the second half was fueled by a pair of dunks by Nelson Mbongo during that 9-2 run. 

A 10-0 run gave Lincoln Trail a 73-52 lead that put them in control. JJ Reed scored all 13 of his points for Lincoln Trail in the second half, including three 3-pointers.

Lakers guard Jonah Smith scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. Costly turnovers and the physicality of Lincoln Trail helped keep the visitors in front with a comfortable lead.

“We have to value every possession,” Larry said. “If we don’t do that, we can be hurt by that. We have to be sure to value and cherish the ball at all times.”

Everett Stubblefield scored 18 for Lake Land, while Yassen Hussein added 11.

It was a more balanced scoring effort from Lincoln Trail, who had seven players scoring in double-figures, led by guard Blaise Beauchamp at 24.

It was the third straight loss for Lake Land after an opening night overtime win over Kankakee.

“One thing I love about this group is they have a lot of fight in them,” Larry said. “Everyone is buying into the process and trusting it, and every game we’ve gotten better.”