In some ways, the effect Tyree Corbett had on Tuesday’s Public League battle atop the Liberty Division mirrored his brief tenure with Lincoln.
Corbett, a long-armed, 6-foot-6 senior, started the season at Frankford before joining an already-talented Lincoln team in December.
Tuesday against previously unbeaten Sankofa, Corbett came off the bench, found a place to fit in and sparked the Railsplitters to a 78-66 victory.
And after Monday’s loss to Frankford, Lincoln was desperate for a victory.
“This game was pivotal,” said Lincoln coach Al Brown. “Yesterday we had a slight letdown. We kind of regrouped …”
After a first half fraught with fouls, Lincoln (13-3, 9-1) had a two-point edge at intermission.
In the third quarter, however, Corbett added a spark that gave the Railsplitters the momentum needed to seize control despite their best player, Khalif Meares, being saddled with foul trouble.
“He adds a lanky wing player that can run like a deer up and down the court,” Brown said of Corbett. “And with his length defensively, he can add a lot to how we play.”
When Corbett started the third quarter, the lithe lefty quickly scored nine of his team-high 16 points, leading to a 12-point bulge entering the fourth.
Expected a tough one
“I practiced hard, I played hard,” Corbett said. “When I came here, I was determined to to play hard [all] the time. During practice, during games — I’m going to earn my time.”
Corbett, who also played at West Catholic and West Philadelphia, said he wondered if he’d fit in at Lincoln, which already had talented wings with size.
“I knew coming here I wouldn’t just play off my height,” he said. “I’ve got to earn my time. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m earning my time. I’m not laughing, joking, none of that. It’s straight go to work.”
The referees’ whistles were also hard at work. The teams combined for 61 total fouls (Sankofa 32, Lincoln 29) in a closely called contest.
Sankofa (11-5, 8-1) cut the lead to six, but an untimely technical foul for taunting led to a 7-0 run that gave Lincoln control for good.
“We came out here aggressive,” Corbett said. “We came ready to fight, we came ready to play and that was it.”
Jahi Randall added 12 points and 7 rebounds. Lincoln also shot just 24 of 40 from the foul line.
Khalil Turner led Sankofa with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists. His team shot just 21 of 35 from the foul line.
Lincoln 16 16 24 22 — 78
Sankofa 14 16 14 22 — 66
L: Tyree Corbett 16, Khalif Meares 11, Shakeir Morrison 10, Emeul Charleston 10, Travis Coleman 9, Jahi Randall 12, Aseem Lucky 1, Sanhei Day 9.
S: Khalil Turner 16, Jiaird Ballard-West 14, Jabri Noble 11, Scott Spann 12, Koby Devine 8, Derrius Ward 5.