Hoops Game of the Week: LP wins rematch over Rayville

By T. Scott Boatright

COLUMBIA — Last week a sluggish third quarter cost the Lincoln Preparatory School boys basketball game at Rayville.

In a rematch played Tuesday night at the Caldwell Tournament, Lincoln Prep struggled again in the third stanza, but this time the Panthers walked away with a 53-52 win over Rayville to climb to 14-5 on the season. 

Lincoln Prep trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter but outscored the Hornets 19-10 in the second period to take a 29-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

But Rayville threatened once again to race away with a strong third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 20-9 in the stanza to hold a 44-40 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Lincoln Prep coach Antonio Hudson was determined to make sure his Panthers didn’t let this one get away — and they didn’t with a strong fourth quarter, especially on the defensive end.

“The score is kind of deceiving about what all happened,” Hudson said. “We were actually in control most of the game. It was just like it was when we played them for the first time. We just had a real slow third quarter. 

“All I told them was to make sure that we get back to our kind of basketball and what got us the lead – don’t turn the ball over for big and easy shots, and make sure we contested their shooters, because they have multiple good shooters. Once we were able to get back to doing what we had been earlier on, we fought right back into it.”

Ja’Kyren Montgomery led the way for Lincoln Prep with 15 points, eight rebounds and an assist. Hudson said the 6-1, 160-pound senior is becoming more and more of a force for the team in his first season as a Panther.

“He’s a senior and I really wish I would have had him more than just this year,” Hudson said about Montgomery. “He came to us from Bastrop. His aunt (Joyce Montgomery) is like a pillar in the community in Grambling and she wanted a change of scenery for him. So he came to us last year but had to sit out. He’s worked his tail off and continues to get better. He’s actually riding a series of about three or four games in a row that he’s put together and been one of our top guys. It’s just another element — a different athlete that brings something at least a little different. Ja’Kyren can score the ball and he’s getting better and better defensively.”

Bralyn Mayfield double-doubled for the Panthers with 14 points, 13 rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot while D’Mitry Payne chipped in with 13 pts, seven rebounds, seven assists and a blocked shot.
“D’Mitry is just who he is — a helluva athlete,” Hudson said. “He kind of runs the show out there. But the good thing is our depth — it’s more than just him. And it’s more than just Bralyn. If you look at it, we’ve had three or four people scoring in double figures every game. And it’s different people at times. 

“Emmanuel Bryant brings a lot to the table for us. Ja’Kyren Montgomery and Brandon Heard have been key players for us. Heard has actually made things easier on D’Mitry because Heard is good at handling the ball, too. It’s just a great group of role players we have. The list does on — Darrell Jackson, Stephen Burks III … I could just go one and on. It’s been a total team effort for us so far.”

The Panthers will now take a break before returning to action on Jan. 3 at home against Carroll.
“It’s a good time for a little break right now,” Hudson said. “At small schools, when you share athletes like we do with the football team, the month of November is kind of null and void. We haven’t had all that many practices with double digit players after the football players got to hit the court. We’re just blessed that some of those guys have played for me before and know the system. They just meshed right in.

“That 14-5 record is a good thing heading into January. And there’s a couple of those losses that could have gone either way. We’ve played a couple of overtime games, so we’re well-tested. I’m just glad to finally get a break to rest up and work on pulling things together tight.”

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