WHEELING - Adam Stupak accounted for more than half of Shadyside's points Tuesday night but Linsly had too much athleticism and depth for the visiting Tigers to stay in the game at the Stifel Field House.
Despite 25 points from the hot-shooting Shadyside junior guard and 14 by promising freshman pivot Austin Dorris, the Cadets took charge late in the first half and rolled to a 69-49 victory,
Tuesday night's encounter came on the cutoff date for next week's OVAC Tournament and both teams have already clinched berths in the 2A Division championship bracket semifinals.
Linsly (11-6), which was battling Steubenville Catholic Central for the second seed, was hoping to earn the home court advantage for next week's test. The Crusaders knocked off once-victorious Wheeling Central Catholic 65-47, also Tuesday.
''It's going to be close," Linsly coach James Wallace said. ''We did all we can do to get in this position. Playing on this big floor is an advantage with the athletic kids we have on this team."
Although Shadyside has just a 4-14 record following its second loss this season to the Cadets, the Tigers were expected to finish in the fourth place, setting up a third meeting against top-seeded River. The Pilots won both previous games, although the second contest was tight until the final minutes when Shadyside had problems putting the ball in the basket.
Depth has been the biggest concern all season for Coach Ed Andes' Tigers, whose starting lineup against Linsly included four juniors and one freshman.
''We have two guys that should be playing for us that are hurt," Andes explained. ''It's really left us short-handed, especially when we play against an athletic team like Linsly."
Wallace was pleased after watching his Cadets prevail despite a solid effort early in the game by the visiting Tigers.
''Give Shadyside credit. They came out and had a great game plan," Wallace claimed. ''They played hard and made some shots early."
A zone defense is something fans of the Belmont County visitors haven't seen much, if hardly at all, during Andes successful tenure at his high school alma mater.
However, Wallace insisted he wasn't surprised to see Shadyside play a different defense this time around.
''We knew he was short on personnel and they don't have a ton of size," Wallace explained. ''I thought they did a nice job of taking away certain people from our offense. Fortunately, we were able to force them into a lot of turnovers. We brought a little more full court pressure than we usually do, knowing that if we could wear them down we would have the fresher legs in the fourth quarter."
Shadyside came out with plenty fight in first quarter when Dorris scored eight of his game-total of 14 points. The 6-foot-3 pivot, who can be effective playing on the block or as a passer from the high post, hit 4 of 5 shots early in the game.
With Dorris off to a hot start, the Tigers held the lead a couple of times and the score was tied on three occasions before Akil Blount swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Linsly in front to stay at 14-11.
Midway through the second quarter, the Tigers cut a nine-point deficit down to six at 27-21 when Stupak took a kickout pass from Dorsey and buried his second trifecta of the game. However, Wallace, finishing off a 14-point first half for himself, scored five straight points, first hitting a stickback shot, adding a layup after another nice move to the tin and a free throw that sent the Cadets into the locker room in front 32-21.
Blount opened the third quarter by draining another 3-pointer followed by Jameson Murray's steal and transition layup that extended the lead to 37-21. Linsly still was on top 49-35 entering the final quarter and the advantage never got lower than 13 points the rest of the way.
Wallace paced the Cadets scoring with 21 points, while Florida A&M football recruit Akil Blount and his freshman brother Jibri Blount contributed 17 and 15 points to the victory.
Ten of Akil Blount's points were registered during the second half when Linsly outscored the Tigers 37-28. Jibri Blount tossed in six of his points during the third quarter.
Toddy Goodwin-Rowe, another Linsly freshman, was charted with six assists, while Leighton Gibson and Jibri Blount paced the Cadets' rebounders as each pulled down six missed shots .