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Undefeated Mustangs roll to a title

by Alan Lew

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    One year after a devastating triple overtime defeat against Mission, the Lincoln Mustangs were crowned champions.  Capping off a league play 14-0 season, the Mustangs defeated the Marshall Phoenixes 65-38 to win the AAA San Francisco section boys varsity final on March 7.
    This was Lincoln’s first title since 2003 when Marques Benjamin, Kaliq Brown and Ikheem Rhodes led the team to a 63-46 win over player of the year Joe Lewis and the Burton Pumas.


    This year it was obvious Lincoln was a team on a mission.  The Mustangs cruised to a 14-0 record against league opponents.  The only games decided by 10 points or fewer were against juggernauts Mission and Balboa.  Lincoln dominated teams like the Academy Wolves and O'Connell Boilermakers blowing them out by 48 and 50 respectively.


    The playoffs were much of the same for the Mustangs.  The first single game playoff pitted them against the Leadership Griffins who they defeated 78-32.


    The semifinal brought Lincoln and Lowell together.  The Mustangs' size in the front court was overwhelming for the Cardinals as they fell 56-44.


    Thurgood Marshall stormed into the playoffs with a 12-2 record, earning the third seed behind first-seeded Lincoln and second-seeded Mission.


    In the first round Marshall knocked off the sixth-seeded Washington Eagles 44-41 in a nail biter.


    The second round saw Marshall leading favored Mission by 14 with 2:50 left before a furious comeback cut the lead to 67-66 with 6.7 seconds left.  Mission missed at the buzzer, and Marshall advanced to the championship game.


    The March 7th championship game at Kezar was filled with anxious fans.  The atmosphere was electric throughout the game.  The crowd was roaring for all 32 minutes.  


The game opened with Marshall winning the tip.  Both teams' offenses were sloppy for the first few minutes.  The Mustangs struggled to take a 6-2 lead early.
    Midway through the first quarter, Lincoln’s junior guard Tarrez Blaylock streaked down the open court for a dunk.


    “A kid came up to me, because he heard I had a dunk in the last game,” Blaylock explained, “[and] he said, ‘Can I get another one?’ and I was like ‘if it’s open I’ll do it for him.’  And I got it for him.”


    Blaylock’s dunk was not the only highlight of the first quarter.  Lincoln’s trapping defense forced several turnovers that led to easy baskets on the other end.  The period ended with Lincoln leading 20-10.


    Just as the game started to look like a rout, Marshall forced its way back in.  The Phoenixes played hard-nosed defense in the second quarter holding Lincoln to seven points.  On the other end the Mustangs couldn’t contain Marshall.


    “We struggled in the beginning; we had some defensive breakdowns,” Blaylock admitted.


    Marshall tallied 13 points in the second to cut Lincoln’s deficit to just four at halftime, leading many to think the game would go down to the wire.


    With Lincoln fans fearful of another disappointing loss in the final AAA San Francisco game of the season, the Mustangs came out of halftime galloping.  They took over the third quarter with their signature defense and highlight offense.  The rim protection by senior center Seth Snoddy forced the Phoenixes into mostly jump shots.  That led to only eight points in the third quarter.


    For the Mustangs offense came a lot easier.  They pounded the paint nearly every time down the floor.  When they weren't driving or posting up, they were swishing threes.  Lincoln put 21 on the board in the third period to take a commanding 48-31 lead heading into the last eight minutes of regulation.


    Even with a 17-point lead the engine was still going full steam with the Mustangs pushing their lead to as much as 30.  Both teams emptied their benches around the halfway mark of the fourth quarter and still played hard.  As the buzzer sounded, the Mustang bench swarmed their teammates standing at half court.


    The story of the game was the second half where Marshall could only muster 15 points and turned the ball over repeatedly.


    “[In the] second half we played a lot better on the defensive end,” defensive-minded Lincoln coach Matt Jackson said.  “We made them take hard shots and continue to take hard shots.  It just worked out our way.”


    Last year’s heartbreaking loss against Mission was motivation for the team to be a force on the court this year.


    “We had a chip on our shoulder,” Jackson revealed. “And we knew that we probably should have won last year.  We were going to leave no doubt this year.  That was the goal.  These guys are great and they accomplished it with all their hard work.”


    “Last year we fell a little short, but this year we did it again.  We didn’t leave any doubt,” Mustang senior guard Tyree Marzetta reiterated.  “The feeling was great and the preparation for it was great too.  It’s just about staying together and being a team.  We did it.  It was really exciting playing here.  We fought for four quarters and got the win.”


    Happiness was not only felt by the players on the court, but loyal fans who supported the Mustangs throughout the years were proud as well.


    “It’s really great when we have a team of players who have genuinely good character.  They’re genuinely good guys, not just good athletes,” Lincoln Dean Joel Balzer remarked.  “They’re good human beings who care about other people.  And I’m really proud of them.”


    With 10 seniors graduating this year, the Mustangs will have a nearly whole new team next year.  However, the optimism is there.


    “We’re going to lose a lot of seniors next year,” Blaylock reported, “but me, Jemeil, Devyn and the rest of the juniors we just gotta work harder without KJ, Seth and the rest of those guys.  But I think we’re going to get it through next year.”

 

Spring Sports Briefs: Some spring athletes spring into action

by Charlotte Woo

 

All of the teams’ schedules can be found at CIFSF.org.


Badminton
Head coach Andy Lam and assistant coach Norman Lam lead the badminton team this year. Team captain Michael Lam believes this year’s team is more driven and more focused on reaching championships than ever. They have struggled in the A Division the past two seasons, but preseason conditioning sessions have helped the team work together better than ever. The team is proud to have beaten Lowell at the beginning of this season. As of March 14th, the team is undefeated, and they hope to keep it that way.

Baseball
Head coach Jim Neilly and assistant coach Steve Rogers along with team captains Jeremiah Naraja, Kyle Selor, Raymond Trinh and David Yee-Eng are hoping to lead this year’s boys baseball team to championships at AT&T Park May 6th. According to junior Nicholas Suen, “A couple of the captains started an intense condition program” to prepare the team for the upcoming season. With a team almost completely made of with returning players, Suen believes they have the potential for a breakout season. Their record as of March 14th is 1-1.

 

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Fencing
Al Carter, head coach, and Byron Weiss, assistant coach, are assisted by boys team captain Gareth Wong and girls team captain Shannon Do this 2013-14 season. As of March 14th, the boys team record is 1-3, and the girls team record is 2-2.

Flag Football
Coach Greg Foote and Drye, along with team captains Joi Fisher, Devon Simmons and Deanna Zheng, lead one of the five flag football teams in the AAA league. The team is hoping to report their championship win from the inaugural season. Sophomore Alicia Gray hopes to learn more about the sport, "since it is completely new to school sports." Lincoln's flag football team's record is 1-2 as of March 14th.

Boys Golf
Golf coach Steve Robinson is calling this 2013-14 season a developing year. With only two returning players and only two other athletes who have played golf before, Robinson hopes to develop the team for higher expectations next year. Team members are dedicated to improving over the season and are hoping have a chance at playoffs, but their competition is tough this season. Lincoln’s boys golf team is 1-2 as of March 14th.

Girls Soccer
This 2013-14 season, head coach Marcos Estebez and captain Engie Mendoza lead a team of mostly underclassmen. According to senior Melissa Wong, “A lot of players have injuries, so it’s kind of hard to work together.” Estebez is making it work though, because as of March 14th, the team is 2-0.

Softball
Coaches John Segale, Kevin Grayson and Crystal Lota have quite a few new players on the team. The team has had to adjust due to new coach Segale. He has had the team play a few preseason games, and according to junior Joanne Luu, “The team works well as a unit.” Their 2-1 record in the A Division leaves them only half a game behind as of March 14th.

 

Mustang Athlete Spotlight: Eleanor Amidei

by Nathan Seidman

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Track shorts, swim suits, singlets and a tennis dress, all of these belong to Senior Eleanor Amidei. Amidei does not one, not two, not three, but five sports, making her an invaluable mustang athlete. Amidei participates in weightlifting, tennis, swimming, track, and flag football. She is a phenomenal multi-sport athlete.

Her main sport is weightlifting, which she began freshman year. Amidei destroyed most of the competition, and went on to win 2nd place at national championships. Though Amidei is a silver medalist at nationals, she has a heart of gold and uses that to propel her through track and swimming, both of which are cardio-intensive sports.

 

When asked about the difficulties of being a multi-sport athlete, Amidei said “Hell yeah! It’s hella hard to do so many sports at the same time.” Balancing so many sports can be tough, but Amidei perseveres.

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Out of track and swimming, Amidei excels at swimming and is co-captain of the swim team. She joined her freshman year and by now there is no doubt she tears through the water like a majestic sea-dragon of speed.
Perhaps more impressive than her swimming, is her flag football career. Amidei is a member of the first Lincoln Flag Football team and has propelled the program to win State Championships.
    
All in all, Amidei is a phenomenal athlete and proudly represents lincoln in five fantastic sports, and is a true mustang at heart.