WHEELING - Linsly's speed, athleticism and defensive intensity all but blew the Wheeling Central boys' basketball team out of its own gymnasium during Tuesday night's typical heated inter-city contest.
Smarting from two defeats to open the season against quality opponents, the defending Ohio Valley Athletic 2A Division champion Cadets exploded out to a 26-16 first quarter lead and survived a brief third-quarter hiccup to overpower the Maroon Knights 59-44.
Leading the orchestra for Linsly was sophomore Toddy Goodwin-Rowe with 21 points, six rebounds and three steals. With a near-packed house looking on, Goodwin-Rowe was virtually unstoppable whenever he worked his way into the paint where he could put his soft-shooting stroke on display. Overall, he was 7 of 12 from the field and netted all but one of his eight free-throw attempts.
''We've asked Toddy to step up and really mature this year,'' Linsly coach James Wallace said. ''He had a great night for us handling the basketball and defending. When he got the ball in the middle, Central couldn't do a whole lot to stop him.''
Wheeling Central (1-2) coach Mel Stephens had seen Goodwin-Rowe's act before and wasn't surprised to see him do it again.
''Toddy was just too much. We couldn't control him or (Anthony) Wallace. If those guys get the ball in the paint, good things usually happen for them," he said.
Wallace scored 15 points and also dished off for three assists while Jibri Blount added nine points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
The Cadets never trailed, starting a game-opening 7-0 run by winning the opening tip and getting the ball inside to Blount for his one-handed layup.
Limiting the Maroon Knights to one shot on their first three possessions, Linsly quickly went up after Wallace's pull-up jumper, a transition basket by Arien Seymour, who added a free throw a few seconds latter after being fouled going up for another shot.
Central's Thomas Stanley broke the run with a nice move inside for a runner he put up off the glass.
The Maroon Knights got back to within 11-9, on freshman Chase Harler's jumper. However, Wallace drained a 3-pointer at the other end to keep the Cadets in front. Rowe would finish the first quarter with eight points, while Blount added six as the lead was extended into double figures.
''We had a rough start to our season against some really good teams (Parkersburg South and Obama Prep out of Pittsburgh),'' Coach Wallace said, ''but we got back to the fundamentals of trying to play good defense, blocking people out and getting rebounds. When we did that, we were very, very good.
''We defended hard. We were more physical and we executed our half-court defense really well.''
The Maroon Knights on the other hand, had difficulty getting any offensive flow.
''Early in the game, Chase was our only offense,'' Stephens noted.
Harler, making his first varsity start after two solid games coming off the bench, had a seven-point first quarter and went on to finish with a dozen. Central's only other double-figure scorer was junior David Park with 10 points. Park also had trouble getting open for shots as he was limited to only seven attempts the entire game.
''We just struggled on the offensive end,'' Stephens continued. ''In our last game we had 16 offensive rebounds (against Shadyside) in the first half. (Tuesday) I think we only had seven for the whole game. Once we got behind, we couldn't get back out of the hole. When we got the ball inside, we just could not finish.''