It was deja vu.
The East Lincoln Mustangs were eliminiated from the NCHSAA 2A basketball playoffs by the Forest Hills Yellowjackets on Saturday at CVCC in Hickory. The final score was 71-62. The Mustangs had been eliminated from the playoffs last year by the Yellowjackets.
Forest Hills led at the half by three points, but the Mustangs reversed that and led by three after three quarters. Then came a fourth quarter surge that saw the defending state champs outscore East Lincoln by a dozen points. After falling behind by 10 points, 55-45, the Mustangs cut the margin to a single point 55-54, but the Yellowjackets finished the game with 16 points over the final four minutes for the victory.
For East Lincoln, Justin Kuthan had 34 points and nine rebounds. Sidney Dollar added 14 points and had six steals. Senior Ben Zirkle had eight assists for the Mustangs. East Lincoln's biggest problem was their inability to hit three-pointers. They hit only 3 of 19 attempts; Kuthan had two of those.
East Lincoln finished the season with a 29-3 record. Forest Hills will try to repeat as state champs. They play undefeated Farmville Central for the 2A title next Saturday.
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