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Thursday, December 29, 2011
South Grand Prairie blasts Lincoln to take third

By Travis L. Brown

DALLAS -- While the third place trophy in the DISD/Coca-Cola Classic wasn’t the award South Grand Prairie expected to take home, the Warriors were relieved to bring back some hardware.

After suffering its second loss of the season to Dallas Hillcrest on Wednesday, South Grand Prairie took out its frustration on Dallas Lincoln, crushing the Tigers 73-41 at Ellis Davis Field House.

South Grand Prairie turned the basketball game into a track meet, running all over a Lincoln team that is struggling to find its identity after the graduation of current Oklahoma State standout LeBryan Nash.

“Whenever you lose a player like that, you’re going to miss him in a major way,” South Grand Prairie coach Brandon Bennett said.

Even if Lincoln had Nash in Tiger purple Thursday night, it would have had a hard time controlling the high-speed attack of South Grand Prairie. Once the Warriors established their transition game, they moved the ball from inside to outside, hitting midrange and perimeter jumpers.

“That makes your team complete when you have bigs inside who can score the ball and you have guards that can shoot it and penetrate it,” Bennett said. “When we play together, we can go inside-out, and that’s tough to beat.”

South Grand Prairie’s defense held Lincoln’s offense to just four points in the first quarter and 16 in the first half, while the offense put up 44 points before halftime.

All-tournament selection Jayrn Johnson had 16 points to lead four Warriors in double-figures.

Lincoln’s only spark was junior guard Shirmane Thomas, also an all-tournament selection, who put up a team-high 15 points.

Taking hardware from the tournament forces South Grand Prairie into the discussion of not only the best teams in the area, but in the state and country.

Both public teams ahead of South Grand Prairie on the ESPNHS Fab 50, No. 4 Flower Mound Marcus and No. 33 DeSoto, lost in the second round of the Whataburger Tournament, assuring that both will finish lower than third place. Success at a big-time holiday tournament could push No. 37 South Grand Prairie into the picture as one of the top two UIL schools in the area.

“Our ultimate goal is to win a state championship -- to be number one -- and we feel like we’re right there with those teams,” Bennett said.