Wells’ Natalie Thurber puts up a shot during Tuesday’s playoff game against Lincoln Academy.

Wells’ Natalie Thurber puts up a shot during Tuesday’s playoff game against Lincoln Academy.

PORTLAND — The No. 5 Wells Warriors were unable to handle No. 4 Lincoln Academy’s size in a 43-33 loss in the Class B South girls basketball quarterfinals on Tuesday afternoon at the Portland Expo.

“I think (Lincoln’s size advantage) was the key,” said Wells coach Don Abbott.

Abbott’s team would give Lincoln Academy several second-chance scoring opportunities, which the Eagles would turn into a 24-16 halftime advantage.

“On their first-shot opportunities we were pretty solid defensively … we just gave them too many opportunities for putbacks, and they got to the line because of that,” said Abbott.

Abbott knew the Eagles would provide a major challenge to his team.

“It was a tall order … when you are trotting out four six-footers,” said Abbott of Lincoln’s size. “You know we’ve been a pretty good rebounding team all year long honestly, but (their size) was the key.”

The Eagles would push their lead to 12 early in the third quarter, but the Warriors weren’t going to go away quietly.

Natalie Thurber scored 10 of her gamehigh 15 points in the third quarter to lead Wells on a 13-8 run, which cut the Lincoln lead to 32-29.

Wells scored the first two points of the fourth to cut the lead to one, but the Eagles would call a timeout and adjust their defense.

“At that point, we decided that we better get out on their 3-point shot,” said Lincoln Academy coach Kevin Feltis. “We stretched out our zone defense a little more, got a hand in the face and really defended the basketball better.”

From that point on, the Eagles would outscore Wells 11-2 to secure the victory and a trip to the regional semifinals.

“I felt like we got down by 12 and we had expended a lot of energy to get back into it and it’s hard to keep playing at that emotional and physical level the whole game,” said Abbott.

Abbott was proud of his team’s effort.

“Credit to our kids,” said Abbott. “A lot of teams fold up shop when they are down 12 against a big, strong team like that. I thought we showed a lot of guts and I was very proud of the way we battled and got ourselves back into it.”

Feltis was happy to see a balanced scoring effort from his team, including eight points apiece from guard Brie Wajer and forward Avae Traina and six each from centers Kaitlyn Feltis and Samantha Burke.

“We definitely try to play inside-out as much as possible. We have four kids that are around six feet, one at 6-foot-2, and we pound the ball inside and, if we don’t have it there, we kick it out,” said Feltis. “We got some key buckets from the inside people and some nice balanced scoring today and a real nice job from my guards. I was really happy with my guards today.”

Wells, which finished the season with an 8-11 record, will bring back the entire team next year – and Abbott is hoping Tuesday’s loss will help the Warriors next year.

“Our talk downstairs was a little different than when you are saying goodbye to kids. These guys have the unique opportunity to look at this as their season’s half over,” said Abbott. “We’ll come back next year and hopefully we’ll learn from this. Sometimes you have to lose a game like that before you learn how to win a game like that.”

NOTES: Wells’ Leah Tufts and Halee Ramsdell would finish Tuesday’s game with five points each … Lincoln Academy will play No. 1 Mountain Valley in the Class B South semifinals on Thursday.

Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @ JournalTsports.

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