Lincoln's defense snatches first-round PIAA playoff victory

Here’s a pro-tip for would-be ballhanders going against Lincoln’s defense: Protect the ball when you hear “snatchies” yelled from the bench.

Saturday afternoon at Southern, the Railsplitters dominated Upper Darby, 67-46, in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs, a contest that was no longer in question after the second quarter.

With 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first frame, an assistant coach on Lincoln’s bench yelled “snatchies” as his defense prepared to pressure Upper Darby on the ensuing inbounds play.

Senior guard Khalif Meares obliged, plucking the ball from its former possessor and sprinting to the basket.

The play was emblematic of one of the most dominant defensive first halves by any team in the city this season.

“We’re just locked in,” said senior guard Shakeir Morrison, who led the team with 21 points. “That’s all. We’re just locked in.”

Later, he added: “We’re hungry. We’re chasing Hershey, for real, for real.”

The Railsplitters face No. 5 seed Coatesville on Wednesday at a time and locale to be determined. The Class 6A championship will be decided March 24 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Camera icon H. RUMPH JR.
Lincoln’s Emeuel Charleston (center) looks to pass as Upper Darby’s Diby Keita (15) and Phil Williams (22) defend.

Lincoln’s chocolate chase started in earnest when the Railsplitters — newly crowned District 12 champs — knocked off Catholic League champion Roman Catholic in the district title game last week.

It continued Saturday when Lincoln jumped out to a 24-11 lead after the first quarter thanks to Tyree Corbett, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, but tallied eight of each in this first quarter.

Corbett earned a double-double with about 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the half. That’s 10 minutes, 10 seconds of game time needed to amass 10 points and 10 rebounds. Soon after, he picked up his second foul and sat for most of the quarter.

By intermission, Lincoln (22-4) led, 43-16, had six steals, outrebounded the Royals 35-7, and allowed only 5-o- 21 shooting, including 3 of 12 from deep.

“Basically the only people that believe in them is them,” said Lincoln coach Al Brown. “The school community and their family and friends, but outside of that, they’re hearing a lot of things on social media and sports outlets that they’re not that good …”

Upper Darby (18-9) finished with 17 turnovers and shot just 15 of 50 overall and 7 of 21 from deep. Despite relative success from three-point distance, the Royals still trailed, 60-25, after the third frame.

Madg Abdelwahab led the Royals with 22 points.

Camera icon H. RUMPH JR.
Lincoln’s Shikier Morrison (right) and Upper Darby’s Mamadou Toure chase a lose ball during the second half.

Meares added 10 points and led Lincoln with four steals. The winners finished with 13 steals. Sanhei Day was also excellent at point guard off the bench, which helped when senior forward Jahi Randall was saddled with early foul trouble.

“It was an important win,” Morrison said. “It was a statement win because everyone was counting us out. We made a statement because everyone thought we weren’t supposed to beat Roman. We just made a statement, and Coatesville’s up next.”

Lincoln                 24     19     17      7   —  67
Upper Darby        11       5       9     21  —  46

L: Shakeir Morrison 21, Tyree Corbett 16, Khalif Meares 10, Sanhei Day 5, Sahmir Williamson 5, Akeem Luckey 3, Emeul Charleston 3, Jahi Randall 2, Travis Coleman 2.

UD: Madg Abdelwahab 22, Phil Williams 5, Diby Keita 4, Jalen Trent 4, Nasir Greer 3, Floyd Wedderburn Jr. 3, Mamadou Toure 3, Eli Brown 2.