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Bears bag 1A South

The West Lincoln Bears captured the 2012MHSAA South State Boys 1A championship Saturday night, defeatingthe Durant Tigers 54-42 in Jack Case Gymnasium.

    The Bears (28-4) and the Tigers (25-6) will have a week off toprepare for their march to the coveted state title prize at the BigHouse, a.k.a. Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum.

    The Tigers will battle the North State champion Biggersville at2:30 p.m. Saturday. West Lincoln entertains Coldwater at 8.

    This is the first appearance in the Big House for the Bears since1996. The last time West Lincoln won the coveted gold ball was1982.

West Lincoln 54, Durant42

    The Bears and Tigers provided a classic heavyweight bout in frontof a jam-pack crowd. Both teams struggled  to get things going offensively inthe first quarter, but relied on their defense to keep itclose.

    West Lincoln struck first in the first quarter as they jumped outto an early 7-0 lead before the Tigers scored the first basket atthe 5-minute mark. The Bears extended their lead to 13-4 after onequarter of action.

    In the second quarter, both teams’ defense tightened up as Duranttrimmed the Bears lead to 13-7 with 6-minutes to go. In the lastminute before halftime, the basketball fans witnessed a quickoffensive spark from both teams as West Lincoln held on to a 27-20lead.

    In the third quarter, the defensive battle continued as Durantrallied to trim West Lincoln’s lead to 2-points, 34-32, beforeheading into the final frame.

    In the fourth, West Lincoln managed a 4-0 run to increase theirlead to 38-32 with 5:16 remaining.  The Bears used their stall offense towear down the weary Tigers and continued to build their lead.

    West Lincoln juniors Jared Case and Lucas Burris combined for ateam-high double-double of 16 points apiece to lead the Bears.Burris grabbed 12 rebounds and Case had 11 rebounds.

    “We are glad to get the win,” said junior forward Lucas Burris. “Weplayed really hard against a good team. Overall, we are notsatisfied with just this win. Our main goal is to win it all.”

    Freshman Duane Marshall pitched in 14 points, all in the fourthquarter. Senior De Price aided on the boards with 10 rebounds.

    “The guys got after it and played hard,” said West Lincoln coachLane Young. “Durant has a good team, but we knew they were gettinga little leg weary at the end.

    “We did a great job protecting the ball and working hard to createshots,” continued Young. “Overall, I am really proud of the guys,but we need to stay hungry and work hard in practice to get readyfor the state tournament.”

    Senior forward Garmarcus Thomas was the leading scorer andrebounder for the Tigers with a game-high 17 points and 8rebounds.

    “West Lincoln is a very good team,” said Durant coach Kenyon Ross.”We struggled to get things going offensively and let West Lincolnbuild a lead early in the first quarter.

    “Overall, I was pleased with the guys effort. But we need to restup for the state tournament,” stated Ross. “Congratulations to WestLincoln and I hope we will see each other again in the StateChampionship.”