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BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/11th seed Cardinals beat No. 3 Skyhawks to reach 6A boys basketball semifinals

The shots didn't fall for either Lincoln or Southridge for most of Wednesday's Class 6A boys basketball quarterfinal game.

But that didn't shake the Cardinals' belief.

Poise down the stretch and 32 minutes of gritty defense were enough to grind out a 39-36 win for Lincoln over Southridge.

The Cardinals (17-9), the 11th seed entering the Oregon School Activities Association playoffs, will face Portland Interscholastic League rival Grant in the 8:15 p.m. semifinal Friday at Chiles Center. No. 2-ranked Grant won both league meetings, by 20 and 15 points.

Lincoln's three postseason wins are by six, one (in double overtime) and three points. The Cardinals, who tied for third in the PIL, have knocked off league champions from the Three Rivers and Metro leagues in consecutive games and started the playoffs by beating Mt. Hood Conference co-champion Oregon City.

"We never blow teams out," Lincoln coach Pat Adelman said. "That experience playing in our league and playing through the playoffs where every game is so tight, you gain experience and you get comfortable with it."

Bryce Sloan scored 11 of Lincoln's final 13 points — all from the foul line — to put the Cardinals over the top on Thursday. He finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

Sloan said he had fun shooting so many foul shots to keep Lincoln ahead down the stretch.

"You practice all your life for moments like that so it was fun to have the opportunity to do that," Sloan said.

Sloan finished 12 of 14 from the line as the Cardinals won despite shooting 23.8 percent from the floor.

Southridge (23-3) was the No. 3 seed in the tournament. But 3 was not a friendly number for the Skyhawks, who went 1 for 20 from behind the 3-point line. The one make was from Filip Fullerton. It came with five seconds left in the game and pulled Southridge to within two points.

When Sloan then made one of two free throws, the Skyhawks had hope of tying the game — until Sloan stole the inbound pass and dribbled out the clock.

Lincoln maintained a slim lead much of the way. Southridge edged in front 27-26 when Bradley Bickler scored with 5:27 remaining. But Sloan was fouled on a drive and hit both ends of a one-and-one, then repeated that after grabbing a defensive rebound. When Daniel Kovalev hit a tough jumper from the key, the Lincoln lead was five with four minutes remaining, and Sloan's foul shooting took the Cardinals to the finish line.

Fun was a word Sloan kept repeating as he talked about his evening.

"We were just having a lot of fun," he said. "At the end of the day, we played team defense. We got the rebounds when we needed to, and we executed on the offensive end."

Kovalev had nine points and five rebounds, and Aidan Anastas matched Sloan's eight rebounds for Lincoln.

Southridge outscored Lincoln 22-4 in the paint and 9-4 on second-chance points. Including free throws, 10 of the Skyhawks' 22 second-half points came after offensive rebounds. Adelman said foul trouble to Anastas contributed to that, as did Lincoln trying to deny entry passes to the 6-10 Fullerton and 6-8 Bickler.

"We were fronting the post, which puts you out of position to rebound," Adelman said. "Those two kids are a load. We did a really good job (defending) them."

They also made it tough on 6-3 Southridge senior Bo Quinlan, who scored 12 points, finished 4 of 13 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point tries. Sloan did a lot of the defensive work on his counterpart. The key was communicating on the screens Southridge set when Quinlan had the ball.

"We told Bryce to go over the top (of the screen) and our bigs would stunt, show on his jumper and then flatten out. They did such a good job of ball screen coverage," Adelman said.

Lincoln led 14-4 after Sloan scored nine and the Cardinals limited the Skyhawks to one-shot possessions over the first eight minutes.

Southridge scored the first eight points of the second quarter before Sloan hit a deep 3 and Kovalev hit a transition jumper on consecutive possessions for Lincoln's five second-quarter points.

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