DALLAS -- His name is LeBryan, but he played like LeBron on Thursday night.
Junior 6-7 power forward LeBryan Nash piled up 26 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block, dominating the first half and leading Lincoln (21-2, 7-0), the fourth-ranked team in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A poll, to a 65-54 victory over No. 7 Woodrow Wilson (19-7, 5-2) at Forester Field.
“Prime-time players show up for prime-time games, and that’s what L.B. is – a prime-time player,” Lincoln head coach Leonard Bishop said.
After missing his first shot from the field, Nash could not be stopped in the first half, outscoring the Wildcats single-handedly, 23-20, as he hit 9-of-11 shots.
Playing in front of scouts from Oklahoma and Kentucky (including former NBA point guard Rod Strickland from the latter), Nash hit his only 3-pointer, and he knocked down lay-ups, jumpers and dunks -- rocking the rim with a thunderous put-back to beat the first-quarter buzzer and adding a crowd-pleasing alley-oop in the second quarter.
By the midway point in the second, Nash forced exasperated Woodrow coach Pat Washington to shout at his players, “Would somebody please stop him?”
Nash said he was just taking advantage of his opportunities.
“I could penetrate on them,” Nash said. “They were running a 1-3-1 zone, so I just kept going to the middle all of the time, and it was wide open.”
With Nash romping, Lincoln opened up a 32-20 halftime lead despite the fact that the rest of the Tigers only managed to shoot 4-of-22 from the field in the half.
The second half was a different story. Woodrow switched to a box-and-one, clamping down on Nash with a double team that denied him the ball. He only managed three shots from the field after the intermission.
The Wildcats came roaring back into the game, as guard Curtis Davis started hitting his 3-pointers and penetrating to float in one-handers over the out-stretched arms of Nash and fellow Lincoln big man Keaton Miles, who finished with only five points but had 17 rebounds and four blocks. Davis scored all but two of his team-high 21 points in the second half.
With Davis on fire, Woodrow cut the deficit to 33-30 with 4:48 left in the third quarter. While the Wildcats caught up to Nash on the scoreboard, that’s as close as they got to the Tigers. Lincoln adjusted to Woodrow’s focus on Nash, and the rest of the Tigers stepped up. Nash scored only a single point in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers recorded 23.
“I had to be a decoy and kick it out to the open shooters,” Nash said.
“We did a great job in the fourth quarter of knocking down some open shots,” added Bishop.
Lincoln's DeKabriean Eldridge scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth and recorded his team's second double-double of the game with 10 rebounds. The Tigers kept the Wildcats from getting second-chance points with a 41-29 rebounding advantage and hit 9-of-14 free throws to hold off Woodrow in the final frame.