Cadets Best Knights In Old-Fashioned Shootout
WHEELING – Anthony Wallace certainly filled up the stat sheet Friday night in Linsly’s 97-92 victory against Wheeling Central.
The Cadets senior finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds.
Maybe Wallace’s most impressive feat was something that won’t be found on the stat sheet.
Wallace should definitely be credited with a few assists that, according to the rules of the game, aren’t technically assists at all.
His presence, though, was definitely key during an important run that helped the Cadets get some breathing room in the fourth quarter in a back-and-forth thriller in front of a packed and raucous crowd at the Central gymnasium.
With the Knights doing everything in their power to stop Wallace, Colton Coss twice was wide open from 3-point range a buried both to give Linsly a 73-61 lead with 6:28 left.
From there Linsly (9-3) was able to get to the free-throw line, led by the wily veteran Wallace, who was 8-for-8 from the line in the fourth, and hold off the Knights.
Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens agreed.
“We knew Coss was a shooter and he can make those shots,” Stephens said. “Sometimes you are so focused on stopping a guy like Wallace, you will do anything to slow him down and the wrong guy goes (leaves his man). Give him credit. He made some big shots, and a couple of times, (Chase) Harler had a hand in his face.”
The rest was Wallace, who finished 12 of 21 from the field, and didn’t have a 3.
“He’s our leader and a four-year starter and nearly a 1,500-point scorer for us,” said Linsly coach James Wallace, a Cadets alum who played in the rivalry. “He has been in every situation there is and not only does he want the ball in that situation, he knows what to do with it. His free-throw shooting was phenomenal and our kids really feed off that. They had the confidence he was going to make those shots and we were able to get a few stops on defense.”
Not many of the stops were on Harler or David Park. The one-two Central combo packed a punch, finishing with 39 and 32 points, respectively.
Problem is, the dynamic duo didn’t get a lot of help.
“You would think when two guys (combine for 71 points) you’d be in good shape, but we didn’t get much help from anybody else,” Stephens said. “Obviously David and Chase were getting the ball but we had some opportunities for some other shots but we couldn’t get the ball to drop.”
Behind 21 points from Harler, Central (8-3) led 39-37 at the break, but when he went to the bench early in the third with his third foul, Linsly went on a 7-0 run to go up 45-41.
The game was tied again, at 45-45 and 60-60, but Jameson Murray hit a 3 near the end of the third quarter to start a 7-1 run and give the visitors a 67-61 lead.
That’s when Wallace started dominating and his presence helped Coss step out for his two key 3s.
“We’ve been talking about this game all week long,” Anthony Wallace said. “My mindset is always to get my teammates involved in the game. Whatever I need to do to win, that’s what I want to do. This is always a big game for us. We want to beat them, they want to beat us.”
Central, led by Park, who made a valiant effort to to get his team back in the game with 18 fourth-quarter points, along with seven rebounds, fought back, and twice cut the lead to one possession.
However, Wallace and Murray were able to get to the line in crunch time and hold off the Maroon Knights.
“Our guys battled hard to get back in the game, we just let the ball get in the wrong hands at the end,” said Stephens. “Wallace is a guy who wants the ball and in big games when they need baskets, he is the guy who is going to do it.”
That and the big-time back-to-back 3s by Coss, who twice helped fuel that run by making big plays on the defensive end to set it up. He finished with 19 points, including five 3s.
“It was a definitely a game of big runs, and we were able to get an extended one and then make some stops,” Coach Wallace said. “Sure, those 3s (by Coss) are going to show up, but what gets lost is the defense he played to help set up that situation.”
Cole Griffin added 17 points for Linsly and Murray had 10.
Park added 12 rebounds for Central and Alonzo Manns had seven points and 12 rebounds.
Central travels to Magnolia for a key game tonight at 8 in the New Martinsville Rotary Classic. Next week the Maroon Knights face Charleston Catholic and Madonna. All those games are against teams in the Class A Top 10.
“It’s going to be a big week for us,” Stephens said. “If we want to get a good seed in the section and the region, and, if we are fortunate, the state tournament, we’re probably going to have to win all of those games.”