LINCOLN — Soren Shepherd’s three-pointer ended the third quarter for El Dorado against host Lincoln Wednesday in its CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III opener.
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While the trey helped the No. 7 Cougars cut into the Fighting Zebras’ 51-40 lead, Lincoln made its fourth quarter free throws for the 77-58 victory, avenging a December nonleague loss to the Cougars at LA Brown Gym.
Lincoln, the No. 5 seed, made 18-of-24 free throws in the fourth, 23-0f-32 in the second half, 27-of-38 in the game. El Dorado (13-14) was 3-of-10 for the entire game.
“We had a hard time making our shots,” Cougar coach Conrad Dizon said. “We were still in the game for awhile. We just didn’t make shots.”
El Dorado cut Lincoln’s lead to 54-46 early in the fourth behind Aaron Line (team-high 21 points), Tommy Williams (18 points) and Matt Smith (five points) but the Zebras made most of their shots plus free throws to advance.
“It was closer than what it was,” Dizon said.
Lincoln built on its 12-9 first quarter lead in the second on treys from Marcus Salgaod (game-high 31 points) and Jackson Sterling for a 34-22 halftime advantage.
Shepherd finished with nine points for the Cougars. Michael Weston followed with three and Kean Thompson, two.
Smith pulled down nine of the Cougars’ 27 rebounds, and he also had four blocked shots. Ian Spencer and Aaron Line had five of the team’s eight assists.