CUMBERLAND — All game, Lincoln Academy guard Jalen Lincoln felt he had let his teammates down. Missed shots. Lost turnovers. Letting his mark drive by.

With .5 seconds to play, all was forgiven.

Lincoln’s 3-point shot off a tipped ball gave Lincoln Academy a stunning comeback 55-54 win over Greely in a Western Class B preliminary-round boys’ basketball game Tuesday night at a packed Greely High gym.

The 11th-seeded Eagles (9-10) move on to a regional quarterfinal against No. 3 Yarmouth (14-4) at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Expo. Greely, the No. 6 seed, finishes 13-6.

Lincoln’s 3-pointer capped a furious fourth quarter by the Eagles, who outscored the Rangers, 22-14. The shot also gave the Eagles their first lead of the game.

Trailing 54-52 with 16.7 seconds left, the Eagles patiently brought the ball up after a missed second free throw by the Rangers. Merritt Wotton drove the lane but had his shot blocked cleanly. In the ensuing scramble, the ball spun out to Lincoln at the top of the key, just beyond the stripe.

“I probably (gave up) like 10 turnovers,” Lincoln said, “so I thought I owed everyone. The ball got tipped out, I stepped into it and took a shot. Then it was crazy.”

The shot fell, the buzzer sounded, and he was mobbed by fans and teammates.

“Jalen’s our leader and he struggled tonight,” said Lincoln Academy Coach Chris McKenney. “It was a good way for it to end for him.”

Despite his troubles, Lincoln had 15 points. After a slow start, the 6-foot-4 Leavitt twins, Ryley (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Dylan (12, 6), proved to be an effective counterweight to Greely’s 6-7 Mike McDevitt, who had 10 blocks and eight rebounds to go with 13 points.

“Initially, I thought my kids were playing scared,” McKinney said. “(McDevitt) played well in there. I don’t think they had an answer for whichever (Leavitt) he wasn’t guarding. Those boys were tenacious.”

It was a heartbreaker for the Rangers, who ended the regular season on a 7-0 run. Leading 25-21 at the half, they came out flying in the third quarter. Bailey Train (12 points) hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions from virtually the same spot in the left corner to push Greely to a 36-23 lead with 5:39 left.

But, as they had all through the first half, the Eagles wouldn’t fold. Lincoln (6) and the Leavitts accounted for all 12 Lincoln Academy points to keep the Eagles within seven, 40-33.

Adding to the Eagles’ momentum – the presence of sixth-man Nic Phinney, who arrived after halftime because of band practice. McKenney said Phinney sparked the Eagles’ pressure defense and prevented the Rangers’ acrobatic Liam Maker (16 points) from taking control.

 


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