The old adage is it's not where you start, it's where you finish. The Lincoln Patriots boys basketball team is hoping that comes true as the regular season winds down with three games remaining.

At 6-11, the Patriots have struggled this winter, and haven't quite lived up the their hype after being ranked No. 1 in Class AA to start the season. Head coach Jeff Halseth says his team is keeping their heads up, and hopes to finish strong with the postseason right around the corner.

"The key is right now, we are improving. We are playing better and better every game. As the scores show you, we are losing some close ones over time, but are getting better. We are heading into the right direction."

Lincoln has lost a few close games. The Patriots have lost two very good games to a solid Rapid City Stevens team. They lost a double-overtime game at home early in the season to the Raiders, and again last Friday night, 52-50. In their district, the Patriots lost a double-overtime game to Washington on the road, and lost by four points at home to the Warriors.  Three other tough losses have come by eight points or fewer to Brandon Valley, Roosevelt, and Watertown.

Despite the losses, Halseth shares the Patriots remain hopeful and want to finish the season strong.

"They are a competitive bunch of guys. They don't like to lose. They are frustrated with their record. These guys are an amazing bunch of guys. They come to practice every day, trying to make themselves better, and finding a way to make the team better. That's what I love about these guys. They don't give up."

The Patriots will have to continue fighting because a tough stretch concludes with three games at home. Two of the games are against city-rivals O'Gorman (8-10), and Roosevelt (13-3).

"We have to get a few wins in. We want to finish as high as we can in our district, seedwise. Even that, that really doesn't matter. All we have to do when it comes to our district and region, is win two games, and get to the state tournament. Once the state tournament begins, and we are in there, it's an entirely new season. We can forget about what happened in the past, and look to the future in the state tournament," adds Halseth.

Their district is winnable, too. Washington is on top with a 11-7 record, and 42.11 seed points. Yankton is second at 12-6, (40.83 seed points) and Brandon Valley is third with a 10-8 record. Lincoln is fourth.

During the season, Lincoln has lost to Washington, as stated earlier, and split with Yankton and Brandon Valley. The Patriots fell to the Lynx by seven on the road, but thumped the Bucks on the road, 72-45.

Lincoln will need to keep grinding to make a postseason run, and rely on their core of players that has been developing chemistry for their team all year long.

"Malik Dunn has been a kid that has been doing a fantastic job. He and Addison Park have been our leading rebounders. He's (Dunn) one of our go-to guys in the paint as well. Calvin Krause, he's an inside, outside guy that's helped us out a lot. Caleb Rector is a senior and is coming off the bench and has been a nice defensive spark. Tate Lindsay is finding his new role as the starting point guard. We've been looking for a one, and Tate has done a nice job running the point. Overall, we have had a host of guys that come off the bench. We play nine, ten guys and all of them have contributed in one way," shares Halseth.

The Patriots hope to stay in the mix as the Class AA state tournament in Rapid City is inching closer and closer.

"We are team that is continuing to improve, and hope we are team nobody wants to play come the end of the season," concludes Halseth.