Linsly Hosting New Hoops Event

WHEELING — Linsly basketball coach James Wallace realizes that if he wants his team to improve, it has to play against the best competition he can find.

That ideal led to the formation of a new event in the Ohio Valley.

The inaugural Tri-State Prep Challenge will be held tonight and Saturday at the Stifel Fieldhouse on the Linsly School campus.

The semifinals of the event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with Western Reserve taking on First Love Christian, which is based in Washington, Pa. The nightcap features the host Cadets against Mercersburg Academy with tipoff slated for 8 p.m.

“We talked with some prep schools in the surrounding states about some regular season games and we all had a common weekend open,” Wallace said. “So, we decided to come together and create this event.”

Saturday’s games will tip off at noon with the consolation game and the championship game will begin at 1:30 p.m.

According to Wallace, the event could feature upwards of six players who could play at the Division I level down the road.

First Love Christian, which is no stranger to the Ohio Valley having taken part in the last two Cancer Research Classics, is led by juniors Jason Eubank and Jamier Fletcher. Both received an offer from UMass last week and Eubank also collected one from Monmouth.

Western Reserve, which is based in Hudson, Ohio, is led by 6-foot-2 sophomore Cooper Parrott and 6-5 freshman Jalin Billingsley.

“Parrott is a great combo guard, who has an excellent shot, and Billingsley has a Division I body,” Wallace said.

Mercersburg features a roster with players from multiple countries. Junior Daniel Ogoro is 6-6 and hails from the United Kingdom, while 6-4 J.J. Chou came to the states from Singapore. The leading scorer on the team, which features four averaging better than 10 a night, is senior Eli Riley.

Linsly (6-14) is undergoing a youth movement with three sophomores, a freshman and just one senior in the lineup. Senior Jimmy Zecca and junior Trevin Tush lead the way. Both have been scoring around 14 points a game for the last several games.

“It’s exciting for our younger kids to have a chance to compete against good competition,” Wallace said. “The opportunity to compete against elite talent is an exciting opportunity. Counting our game against Wheeling Central (on Wednesday), we will have a chance to play against eight to 12 future college players.”

Along with the games, the Linsly junior high teams will also be recognized during the course of the event.

Sponsors for the event are Undos, Shirts ‘N More and Tennant Law Offices