ONEONTA — Dan Lincoln will forever be known in Morris circles as the one who got away.
Lincoln’s runaway layup with 14.3 seconds left Saturday epitomized the Section Four Class D boys basketball championship game as Morris failed to catch Marathon in a 60-55 loss at Oneonta State.
“That was exactly the last thing I said: You’ve got to be careful that they don’t go deep,” said Mustangs coach Dave Sander, who called a timeout after Mike DeLuca floated in for a catch-and-shoot putback to pull top-seeded Morris to 58-55. “I said, the big guys, those guys are the guys who are going to go deep. They want their guards in the front-court.”
As they did virtually the entire game, the Mustangs shadowed 10th-seeded Marathon (10-12) as it set up an inbounds play from the Morris baseline.
“We were stacked up and I was supposed to go and like do a screen and then just took off running,” said Lincoln, who caught Kody Barry’s baseball pass in stride just after half-court and dribbled in to score the final points on an uncontested layup. “We run it during practice for when everyone’s man-to-man full-court. It worked before, during the regular season.”
This game had anything but a regular-season feel, though.
Although Morris led only three times — at 2-0, 4-2 and 13-11 during the first quarter — the Mustangs never trailed by more than seven points. That happened twice, and Morris erased both deficits with 7-0 runs. Levi Decker hit crucial three-point field goals during each comeback spurt, helping the Mustangs to tie the score at 39-39 late in the third quarter and at 49-49 with 2:38 left.
“They just kept coming back and coming back,” said Marathon coach Jim Holland, whose team won its first sectional title since 1994 and will play Section Three champion New York Mills (19-3) in a state quarterfinal at 5 p.m. Saturday back at O-State. “They were tenacious on the boards — all of them. We just couldn’t seem to get ahead. We were up four and we were trying to get up by eight. That way if we missed foul shots, it’s OK. But we just couldn’t get up by eight.”