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Long-distance threes lift Lincoln to overtime win over Vista del Lago, 57-55

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Lincoln nearly died by the three-point shot in the first half against Vista del Lago Monday night in a play-in game in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, but they lived by the three in the second half.

After making only 3-of-14 three-point attempts in the first half, the Zebras hit five three-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime, a few of which were at least five feet beyond the three-point line, as they overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Vista, 57-55, in overtime to advance to play top-seeded Grant on Wednesday.

Lincoln trailed the whole game until freshman Jake Overbay hit his second consecutive three-pointer to tie the game at 45 with 1:11 to play in the fourth quarter. Jack Lanigan then put the Zebras in front for the first time with a long-distance bomb with 2.8 seconds to play. The shot was answered by Vista’s Taylor Ignacio, whose equally long three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

Vista led 52-51 before another three from Lanigan put the Zebras in front, 54-52, with 1:05 to play. Ignacio again answered with a shot from beyond the arc with 29 seconds remaining to put Vista back in front, 55-54. That set up Lanigan’s long-range three with 13.7 seconds remaining that put Lincoln up 57-55. Ignacio had one last look for the Eagles, but his shot was short and Lincoln won the game.

The Zebras last nine points of the fourth quarter and final six points of overtime all came from three-point shots.

“It’s unreal,” Lanigan said of his big shots and the team’s come-from-behind win. “Honestly, the crowd got us into the game. It felt so good to hit those shots. They felt good off my hand.”

Two of Lanigan’s three-pointers late in the game were from at least five feet from beyond the three-point line.

“Jack’s a good shooter,” Lincoln coach Robert Ash said. “We let him shoot it, especially when the shot clock is running down like it was. It sucks that someone had to lose this game because Vista did a great job. They held us to 57 points in an overtime game and that’s a pretty low-scoring game. They had a good game plan against us.”

Vista scored the first 14 points of the game and looked like they were going to blowout the Zebras. Once Lincoln finally got on the scoreboard almost five minutes into the game, they started to chip away. Lincoln outscored the Eagles 11-4 the rest of the quarter and only trailed by seven at the end of the first quarter, 18-11, and again at halftime, 27-20. Lincoln got to within two points of the lead just past the midpoint of the third quarter before six straight points to end the quarter put Vista up by eight points, 39-31 with one quarter to play.

In the fourth quarter, though, Vista went cold from the field and made only two baskets; a baseline jumper from Ignacio with 2:28 to play, and his three-pointer at the final buzzer.

“We got off to a great start,” said Vista assistant coach Jordan Weir, who was filling in for his dad and head coach Tim Weir who was home ill. “We were ready. We played with poise and were not afraid of the moment. In the fourth quarter, it was more about turnovers than us missing shots. We’ve struggled to finish defensive possessions all year. We were one rebound away from winning tonight, twice.”

Overbay led the Zebras with 17 points, while Lanigan scored 15. Pierce Rexford scored a game-high 25 points to lead all scorers. Ignacio finished with 11.

For the Eagles (11-16), it was the seventh game they lost by six-or-less points and the fifth game lost by two points in what has been a tough-luck season.

“That’s a microcosm of our year,” Weir said. “We’ve just been on the wrong end of shots going in. it’s just one of those years. It’s been tough, but there have been no complaints. They guys never quit. I think we lost five games inside of two points. It’s just the bounce of the ball in those games. The guys just kept playing and competed. I’m incredibly proud of them.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Zebras (19-10) as well, as they lost three consecutive league games to Placer, Oakmont and Ponderosa in late January that they were once leading.

“We played well in spurts, but had some issues with our effort,” Lanigan said. “When we work as a team and play together like we did today, we win.”

When asked if his team has anything for the top-seeded Pacers on Wednesday, Ash said, “If we don’t miss.”

Lincoln’s chances might be a bit better than that despite the No. 1 versus No. 16 seeding. Vista played the Pacers on Dec. 27 and only lost 66-59.