When Wendell West received a technical foul during the fourth quarter Saturday, the Agassi Prep boys basketball coach was hoping it would inspire his team.
“I got that to try to light a fire under my guys, to show them I’m fighting for them,” West said.
Unfortunately for West and the Stars, the strategy backfired.
Lincoln County scored 11 of the next 13 points after West’s technical, and the run provided the Lynx just enough breathing room to pull out a 60-56 victory in the Division III Southern League final at Sunrise Mountain.
Both teams advanced to the state tournament, which begins Friday at Orleans Arena.
“I lost my cool, but things happen,” West said. “I felt like we were pressing, and today was not the game to press. Today was the game to be loose. But we still have a shot to win the state championship, and, ultimately, I think we will.”
Ryan Rippetoe had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Chandler Katschke added 16 points and 19 rebounds to lead Lincoln County (22-6). Freshman McClain O’Connor hit four free throws in the final minute, including two with 4.9 seconds left, to clinch the win for the Lynx.
“McClain never played in a varsity game until last week, but the kid is ice cold,” Lincoln County coach Matthew Cameron said. “Nothing scares the kid. I knew he would step up.”
Jordan Smith had 13 points and Steven Jones 11 for Agassi Prep (13-14), which went 14-for-30 from the free-throw line and 4-for-26 on 3-pointers.
The game was tied at 44 with 4:42 left when West slammed the scorer’s table with his fist after a call on the Lynx for a backcourt violation was overturned. Rippetoe hit both free throws to ignite an 11-2 run, and when Katschke converted inside, Lincoln County led 55-46 with 1:48 to play.
The Stars got within 58-56 on Smith’s bucket with 10 seconds to play before O’Connor iced the game at the foul line.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203.