Lincoln boys basketball shows why it's ready to bring home a 6A state title
The first statement of the 6A boys basketball season was made Friday night at Lincoln High School.
The Cardinals relatively coasted to a win over visiting Beaverton 74-63 thanks to an impressive first half. Lincoln came into the night ranked No. 3 in the latest OSAA coaches poll while Beaverton is No. 2.
Lincoln ended the first quarter up 26-7 and built a lead as large as 27 points, getting the score to 37-10 at one point on the Beavers in the first half.
Beaverton fought its way back over the course of the second half, but never got the deficit back below double digits.
"The first quarter was awesome, I thought we played really well the first 12 minutes, but I don't think we played very good the last four minutes," Lincoln coach Heather Seely-Roberts said. "You can't mess around with good teams like this. … I don't think we made the best decisions in the second half, so that's stuff we gotta work on, but I thought our first half was awesome."
Seely-Roberts is in her second season guiding the Cardinals, which also means the second run at coaching her twin sons Moroni and Malachi.
Moroni was the biggest highlight of that awesome first half, putting up nine points and nine rebounds before missing the final two minutes due to some foul trouble.
The senior showed why he's one of the best in the state with strong finishes at the rim, constant pressure defensively and the right technique when it comes to rebounding.
Mix in his taller brother, Malachi, who runs the offense up top with his 6-foot-8 frame and the Lincoln offense is a difficult one to defend, mostly because of the size.
Senior Graham Eikenberry is a 6-foot-10 beast inside and coming off the bench for him is junior Evan Heisler, also 6-foot-10.
All of them help contribute to an offense that moves the ball around with quick and precise passes that many college teams would be jealous of. And any opponent is going to have fits trying to match up physically with the Cardinals' lengthy lineup.
"In practice, going against the tall guys is like, 'Oh my goodness,'" said Moroni, who's listed as a short 6-foot-6. "It's nice to have the guys on my team and not going against them, because it really creates havoc for the defense and we're able to disrupt some stuff."
Creating havoc is a good way to describe what Lincoln did Friday, picking up eight steals as a team, and Malachi leading the way with four.
Moroni pitched in a couple steals while he finished with a team-high 19 points. The senior also had 13 rebounds and five assists for a complete night on the hardwood.
More importantly, Friday night was a large step toward Lincoln proving it can accomplish its ultimate goal: a state title.
The Seely-Roberts crew isn't shy about it either. The mother and son trio have been there and done that at the 3A level before at Yamhill-Carlton, winning an unofficial state title during the 2020-21 school year that was canceled by the OSAA, but saw schools come together to put on their own season-ending tournaments.
The twins were sophomores then, and now at the 6A level, they and their mom, Heather, want to prove this small-town family knows how to ball.
"We came over here and some people doubted us," Heather said. "When we came here they were like, 'Oh they're 3A, how are they going to perform?' I knew they could do it, so I think they want to finish it out."
The Cardinals also showed they are more than just tall bodies against Beaverton with senior guards Blake Johnson and Jimmy McCartan starting and hitting plenty of big shots down the stretch.
With Beaverton turning up the defense in the fourth quarter and getting the lead down to 10, Johnson hit a couple 3-pointers to balloon the lead back up while McCartan hit three 3-pointers on the night as well and finished with 11 points. Johnson had 13 points with three made 3-pointers.
"Everyone knows Moroni, Malachi, Graham, but now these other kids bought in," Heather said. "They didn't play a lot of varsity minutes at all last year, but they just bought in and put in their time and now it's their turn. I think they've really stepped up and are doing the things we want them to do."
The season has just begun, but Lincoln showed why it is the favorite in many eyes to be not only Portland Interscholastic League champions, but also be possible state champions come March.
It's a long road ahead, but length is something these Cardinals are more than comfortable playing with.
"We bring up the state title every day, but we really focus on one day at a time," Moroni said. "Getting better every day at practice, going hard and not taking any days for granted. We come to every game with a chip on our shoulder thinking we're the underdogs, but really everyone is coming for us. We just gotta bring it every night because no night is going to be easy for us."
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