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Cougars claim first perfect season with win over Mountain Lions

by Charles Casey

CORRESPONDENT

SHINNSTON -- Lincoln's quest for a perfect season didn't come easy because it had to face old nemesis Tucker County.

The Class AA top-ranked Cougars had to battle through the No. 9 Mountain Lions' slowdown approach before taking a 36-26 victory.

Lincoln (20-0) finished with its first perfect season.

"A perfect season is far and few between, and God showed us a lot of favor in many ways," Lincoln coach Jeff Osbourn said. "With all of the injuries and sickness, this group of kids has something to be proud of."

Tucker County (8-11) entered the contest with a game plan to control tempo, which frustrated Lincoln, especially in the first half.

"I thought it was very good that we were able to see a stall tactic or some kind of slowdown before tournament time," Osbourn said. "We will know now how to react better to it and be able to make the necessary adjustments."

Lincoln led 8-6 after one quarter behind Tabitha Hutson's four points and one assist. Things did not pick up offensively for either team in the second quarter.

The Mountain Lions outscored Lincoln, 7-6, in the quarter. Dee Stevens' 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer cut the Cougars' lead to 14-13.

The third quarter was even slower than the first half. Both team made only one field goal.

However, Hutson continued her dominance with four points, all from the free throw line and assisted on a Jessica Morris inside basket to give Lincoln a 20-15 lead entering the final quarter.

What hurt Tucker County throughout the game, especially in the third, were turnovers. The Mountain Lions made seven miscues in the quarter and had 24 in the game.

"We knew coming into this game the key against Lincoln was to be able to control tempo," Tucker County Dave Kyle said. "We have been playing these inexperience kids all year. We haven't protected the ball very well all year, and we did not make very good decisions with the basketball."

Hutson and Teresa Medina put the game away in the fourth quarter from the free throw line. Hutson made seven of nine, while Medina converted six of eight.

Hutson finished with 18 points and five assists.

Stevens and Kellie Snyder paced Tucker County with seven points each.

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