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Lincoln Beats Lowell Behind Balanced Attack

Written by Nathan PorterPublished Jan. 19, 2023 • 3:30am
Lincoln center Cortevious Taylor (30) defends Mt. Eden guard Page Achonwa (4) during the fourth quarter of a non-league basketball game in Orinda on Jan. 14, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

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Despite entering Wednesday night’s showdown with the Lowell Cardinals on a seven-game winning streak, the Lincoln Mustangs had given naysayers reason to doubt them.

They had struggled against opponents they expected to beat comfortably, and chemistry had been a concern in recent weeks with teammates arguing during timeouts.

None of those problems were on display on Wednesday, as four Mustangs reached double figures and Lincoln rolled to a 62-44 win to take sole possession of first place in the Academic Athletic Association (AAA).

Quentin Kennedy scored 16 points, Justin Aquino scored 14, Cortevious Taylor posted a double-double and Nikita Kartsev scored 10 points in the convincing victory.

Taylor, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, drained a pair of early 3-pointers to help Lincoln (15-2, 5-0 AAA) jump out to a 16-4 lead after a quarter.

“I felt like, being one of the top-tier guys on our team, knocking down shots is part of my job,” Taylor said.

Though he’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Taylor doesn’t stay glued to the post. His willingness to shoot from the outside helped the Mustangs out to an early lead, and they parlayed that strong first quarter into a 32-16 halftime advantage.

There was one scary moment in the third quarter as Aquino took a hard foul in a collision with Lowell’s Troy Smith. Though Aquino stayed on the ground for a few moments to collect himself, he eventually made both free throws.

“He’s a tough kid,” Lincoln head coach Carl Jacobs said of Aquino. “He’s been playing varsity basketball since his freshman year, so he’s tough-minded and understands what it takes.”

“I think I was hurting more than him,” Jacobs joked.

Lincoln guard Justin Aquino (4) dribbles during the fourth quarter of a non-league basketball game against Urban in Kentfield on Dec. 26, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Aquino recorded a four-point play later in the quarter to put Lincoln up 43-23.

“Every game I come out, somebody is gonna try and hurt me,” Aquino said of the physical play. “I just try and cover all aspects of the game and do what I need to to help us get the win.”

Seventeen turnovers and three Taylor blocks prevented Lowell (14-5, 4-1 AAA) from ever mounting a serious comeback.

“We knew they are a team that likes to cut back door,” Taylor said. “They also like to set strong screens, so I knew to help the middle.”

Jeremyah Aquino, who missed Saturday’s overtime win over Mt. Eden with a hip injury, rounded out the starting lineup with seven points.

As the halfway point of the AAA schedule approaches, the Mustangs are crediting their strength and conditioning program with helping them through physical matchups.

“We did a lot of defensive drills and before the game we did a lot of lifting,” Kennedy said.

Sean Daly and Jalen Ly each scored nine points to lead the visiting Cardinals, who will get another crack at the Mustangs in the regular season finale at home on Feb. 13.

Lowell will face Washington (9-8, 4-2), ranked eighth in The Standard’s latest San Francisco basketball Top 10, on Friday at 8 p.m. in the annual Battle of the Birds at Kezar Pavilion. The Mustangs will be back at home again on Friday for a 6 p.m. tilt with Wallenberg (0-12, 0-4).

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