E.A. Sports Today

Cubs in the Swink

Senior’s last-second layup caps an inspired stretch run that lifts Alexandria over Lincoln

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

Alexandria literally took it down to the wire to score an important early-season area victory Thursday night.

Marcus Swink hit a wide open layup with 1.2 seconds to play to lift the Valley Cubs over Lincoln 60-58.

The last-second game-winner wasn’t all the senior did for the night. Down the stretch Swink drew three fouls and made two of the baskets count with an important and-1 thrown into the mix. He had 14 points and five rebounds.

Putting the team on his back in the second half put a strain on the very talented Golden Bears (11-3). Lincoln led 31-26 at halftime, but the teams consumed the third quarter exchanging shots and it was tied heading into the fourth.

Then Swink started to heat up.

The Golden Bears had the ball with 38 seconds left and were trying to run the clock when they turned it over with 17 seconds to play. At 7.7 seconds left, Alexandria coach Jason Johnson called the winning play.

“We had a lot of variables working at the end of the game,” Johnson said. “We were trying to get Riley Shaw in position, but we played it well and ended up getting the score.”

Swink became the variable that would ultimately decide the game. The pass inbounds sent opposing players scrambling toward the ball, but Swink slipped behind and placed the layup into the basket. The arena erupted as the clock ran out on any shot Lincoln had to win.

“It’s overwhelming to be put in that position,” Swink said. “To hit the game winning shot, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

Johnson was happy with where the team went after the half, and especially with what Marcus did. After a sluggish first half, some words of encouragement lit a fire under his team as they came out in the second half.

“The guys responded well in the second half, and as long as we keep believing I think we always have a chance,” he said.

Swink was one of three Alexandria players scoring in double figures. Caleb Young had 13 points with seven rebounds and Luke Tucker had 10 points with four boards.

Dee Whiteside led Lincoln with 19 points, while Tyler Hemphill hit multiple 3’s down the stretch and finished with 15. Zay Caldwell had 14 points with six rebounds.

“This was a very tough game to lose because we led most of the game,” Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge said. “We played hard, but we are just not fundamental enough right now to win a close ball game.

“This one’s a tough one to swallow. It will be on our minds for a couple of days.”

The excitement of winning was written all over Swink’s face at the end of the game. It was the first game winner he has hit at Alexandria.

“This was a big deal,” he said. “I’ve never hit a shot like that before, and it was awesome.”

The Valley Cubs improved to 2-1 with the victory. Johnson believes even after the late start due to the football playoffs his team can really play well this year.

“We kind of stumbled in the first game,” he said. “It was putting us behind the 8-ball a bit, but it’s nice getting a big win at home. It kept us in the area race.”

Alexandria 60, Lincoln 58

LINCOLN (11-3) – Zay Caldwell 3 7-10 14, Tyler Hemphill 4 5-6 15, Malik Wed 0 2-2 2, Quin Carmichael 0 0-2 0, Dee Whiteside 8 3-6 18, L.J. Carmichael 2 4-7 8, Brikeal Truss 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 21-33 58.

ALEXANDRIA (2-1) — Riley Shaw 2 2-2 8, Austin Taylor 0 0-2 0, A.J. Martin 1 0-0 2, Dalton Dodd 2 0-0 5, Cole Nail 0 1-2 1, Jamal Tucker 1 2-6 5, Jordan Romine 1 0-0 2, Caleb Young 6 0-3 13, Marcus Swink 6 2-4 14, Luke Tucker 3 3-3 10. Totals 22 10-20 60.

Lincoln 17 14 11 16 — 58
Alexandria 13 13 16 18 — 60

3-point goals: Lincoln 3 (Caldwell, Hemphill 2); Alexandria 6 (Shaw 2, Dodd, J. Tucker, Young, L. Tucker). Fouled out: Q. Carmichael. Total fouls: Lincoln 22, Alexandria 24. Officials: Robertson, Caldwell, Warren.

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