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Come-from-behind win propels Lincoln to 6A State Tournament Friday, March 02, 2007

Lincoln' girls team celebrates after their 43-41 win over West Salem Friday night in the second round of the playoffs. Down by as many as nine points in the game, the Cardinals advanced to the 6A state tournament. They will meet Southridge in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Lincoln's girls basketball team has got it together. Trailing West Salem by eight at halftime in their playoff game Friday night, they didn't panic. They kept playing their game, patiently passing the ball around the outside and waiting for chances.

At the other end of the court the PIL champions ma
de key defensive stops when it counted, allowing just five points in the third quarter. By the end of the period they had tied the game at 31, and the momentum had swung their way.

The difference in the fourth quarter, though, was free throws. Every time the Cardinals had the ball, it seemed like PIL player-of-the-year Kelsey Goodell was going to the line. She scored 21 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the game.

But it was Makenzie Blythe's free throws in the final minute that provided the final margin. With a sizable out-of-town crowd cheering loudly for West Salem, she sank two with about 40 seconds on the clock to put Lincoln up by five.

West Salem added a 3-pointer with seven seconds to go, but the Cardinals allowed time to expire on the game and the Titans playoff hopes.

Lincoln was playing without standout sophomore Aliyah Green.

West Salem, the second seed out of the Central Valley league, earned the chance to play at Lincoln by beating South Eugene in the first round of the playoffs last Tuesday. Lincoln had a bye in the first round.

The 6A girls tournament begins Wednesday at the University of Portland. Lincoln, unranked in the AP poll, will face a tough road from the start: their first game is against the defending champions, No. 4 Southridge. If they win that game, they will face either Sheldon (no. 8) or Lake Oswego (no. 5) in the semifinal.

Apart from Lauren Greif, who graduated in 2006, this year's team is essentially the same group of girls who fell 4 points short of a tournament berth last year.

Next year they will return 12 of the 13 members of the squad, including all of their starters.
No matter how the Cardinals fare at this year's tournament, it is clear that they will be a force to reckon with next year.

(left) Lincoln junior Kelsey Goodell works from inside against Hannah Singleton as the Cardinals come from behind to beat West Salem 43-41. Lincoln advances to the 6A tournament at the University of Portland next week.