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Locke-Hicks fully comfortable with leading Lincoln

Rashan Locke-Hicks recorded a triple double in Lincoln’s playoff win over Strawberry Mansion. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It wasn’t the perfect start.

But it’s certainly got better.

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When Rashan Locke-Hicks took over as the point guard for the Abraham Lincoln High School basketball team, it took some time for him to get the feel of being the quarterback of the Railsplitters offense.

Locke-Hicks, who came to Lincoln after playing last year at Sankofa, said he had great players around him and a great coach, but for whatever reason, things didn’t click right away.

“I’m not sure why, but I felt like I wasn’t myself for the first few games,” said Locke-Hicks, who is better known as Nizzy, a nickname his uncle gave him when he was a child. “Everyone did their best to help me, but I just wasn’t playing the way I usually do. I had to work at it, and it helped that everyone around was trying to make me better.”

It’s safe to say their efforts are being greatly rewarded.

Locke-Hicks, a junior,  is now one of the top point guards in the Public League, and he proved that in the Railsplitters’ first playoff game.

He scored 15 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed 11 steals to record his first career triple-double to lead Lincoln to an 88-33 victory over Strawberry Mansion in a Public League playoff game on Thursday. Lincoln is now two wins away from making its second straight appearance in the Public League championship.

“It was cool, I never had a triple-double before, so it was fun to get that,” said Locke-Hicks, who lives in North Philadelphia. “We played pretty well, but we still have a lot left to do. We are all on the same page and we want to win a championship.”

Locke-Hicks is more than willing to do his part to make that happen, even if it means sacrificing opportunities to score.

“On offense, I’m a pass-first point guard, but I like to consider myself a defensive point guard more than anything,” Locke-Hicks said. “I like playing defense, it’s always been a big part of my game and coming here, we play defense.

“I think our defense is what makes us different. There are a lot of good teams out there, but we play defense. Everyone does. I like playing defense, but we all do. Coach (Jamel Lindsey) really puts (an emphasis) on it, and we like to play defense. I think it makes us a better team.”

The Railsplitters defense is lights out, and it’s one of the reasons they’ve been so successful this year. Lincoln is on a nine-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since early last month in a tough game against Math, Civics and Science. The Railsplitters are 12-5 overall, and one of their victories came at the expense of Imhotep Charter, which is considered one of the top teams in the area. The Panthers were the team that beat Lincoln in the championship game a season ago.

Locke-Hicks works hard to make sure the team isn’t letting down.

“On defense, I try to do my part by using my speed and getting to the spot as quick as I can,” Locke-Hicks said. “I also think I have to be a leader. That’s something the coaches want out of me and I’m having fun doing it.

“This is a great team to be on because of the bond we have. We all get along, and we all have fun playing with each other. I’m new to the team, but I played with a lot of these guys before when I was younger, growing up. So playing for this team really feels right. We all have the same goal.”

It’s not a surprise the Railsplitters are heating up at playoff time. Every year they load up their nonleague schedule so when the playoffs roll around, they have experience playing tough teams. And last year that run went all the way to the Public League championship. This year, Locke-Hicks hopes it’s more of that, and then a run in the state playoffs.

But don’t ask him to take credit for himself. Just as he gives assists on the court, he’s quick to hand off praise to the guys around him.

“I think our coach is a big reason for us playing so well,” Locke-Hicks said. “He’s my guy. He looks after all of us. He wants what’s best for us.

“I love playing for him because he knows so much about basketball. He played basketball and he knows what you need to do. He is always helping us and making sure we’re ready to play. Whatever we need, he helps us. He’s very supportive and helpful and he knows basketball.”

Locke-Hicks hopes he can continue to learn while playing.

And he’s ready to get the Railsplitters back to the dance.

“I’m just a good kid who is very passionate about basketball and winning with this team,” said Locke-Hicks, who excels in the classroom, too. “I try to do good. Some people don’t know me so they might put a stamp on me. If you know me, I’m a really good kid and I work hard.

“I’m really happy to be with this team. We are all friends and all have the same goal. We just want a championship.”

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