They call it "The Hive." That's where the Lincoln High School boys' basketball team does its swarming.
The structure is along the lines of a midwestern field house with its arched wooden roof. The formation on the ceiling is like that of a honey comb or beehive.
First-year school Rancho Buena Vista made its debut in "The Hive" Friday night in the San Diego Section Division III semifinals.
Top-seeded Lincoln came out for its pregame warmups circling the floor while Rancho Buena Vista was on it. The swarming didn't end until Lincoln had an 85-55 victory and a trip to the Sports Arena--its first since 1980.
Lincoln (23-2) will meet Ramona, a 56-51 winner over St. Augustine, at the Sports Arena at 12:30 p.m. Friday for the Division III championship.
"I suppose it's a little intimidating," Lincoln Coach Ron Loneski said. "A new school from the North County coming down here to play a school with a reputation for good sports teams."
It was a mismatch almost from the start. Rancho Buena Vista, of the Avocado League, came into the game with as many losses (22) as Lincoln had victories. But the Longhorns came out running with their hosts, and Lincoln's trap press zone didn't seem to bother Rancho, which silenced a vocal home crowd by taking an 11-7 lead with 3:35 to play in the first quarter.
It seemed like a perfect time for Loneski to call a timeout, but he didn't.
"The objective is to use our full-court press," Loneski said. "Our kids are in excellent condition. We'll give up a lot of points because of our press but we'll wear the other teams down."
Rancho led, but its players were breathing hard, and its coach, John O'Neil, was substituting with regularity. He had a bench 10 players deep.
There was just over a minute left in the first quarter, and Rancho still led, 14-13. That lead was its last.
Lincoln's Bernard Dickerson found Joe Temple alone under the basket for a layup with 1:09 left in the quarter to put Lincoln in front for good. Carl Gaines hit a short jumper, and it was 17-14 after the first quarter.
"We were a little flat, and we missed a lot of easy shots early on," Loneski said.
Lincoln scored the first 9 points of the second quarter for a 26-14 lead, and the game was well on its way to being over.
In that run, Roger Johnson hit a free throw, a 15-foot jumper and followed his own miss with a layup.
It was 35-23 at that half, and Lincoln put the game out of reach in the third quarter.
Rancho started with the ball, but Temple quickly stole it away and went in alone for a slam. That started Lincoln on a 14-3 run for a 49-26 lead with 5:02 to play.
"We played good defense in the second half," Loneski said. "We did what we wanted to do."
Gaines led five players in double figure scoring with 20 points. Johnson had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Temple, Aaron Wilhite and Dickerson each had 11 points.
Todd Fellars led Rancho (5-23) with 19 points.