ALJ boys clinch Area 4 top seed in OT, Linden girls win

LINDEN — Charles Edwards took a Leo Baker pass and drilled a three over two defenders with six seconds left in overtime to boost A.L. Johnson past Linden 57-56 Friday night.

The Edwards dagger culminated a frenetic exchange that began with 3:45 left in regulation when Linden took its first lead of the night on a D.J. Charleston free throw line jumper that put the Pats up 43-42.

Dequan Charleston hit a layup with 3:03 left in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 45-42.

Edwards put his team back on top at 46-45 with 2:21 to go in the fourth when his put-back followed a Jeremy Mitchell lay-in.

Mitchell then converted a steal-and-go opportunity to advance the Eagle lead to 48-45 with 2:04 to play in regulation.

D.J. Charleston cut the deficit to one when he connected on a floater with 1:56 to go. The score stayed 48-47 until Shermon Kennedy drained a pair of free throws with 53 seconds left in the fourth to stretch the ALJ lead to 50-47.

Eight seconds later, D.J. Charleston came up big again with a step-up three to tie the game at 50.

Linden then turned a steal into an opportunity to win the game before a charging violation nullified the threat and handed possession to the Eagles. Dequan Charleston stole the ball under his own basket with a second left to end regulation.

The teams exchanged buckets until an ALJ turnover with 44 seconds left in overtime gave Linden new life. With 17 seconds to go, Tahj Johnson connected on a pair of free throws to put Linden up 56-54, setting up the climactic Edwards shot to end the game.

The Patriots trailed 19-7 after the first quarter of play and began chipping away with a 16-7 run in the second quarter. The Pats embarked on a 20-12 run in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

Kennedy led the Eagles with 18 points while Mitchell added 14 for the Eagles. Baker finished with nine while Edwards had seven. Tywon Scott had six points in the win.

D.J. Charleston led Linden with 20 points while Dequan Charleston finished with 16. Johnson had 13 in the loss.

The win solidifies the Class 1A, Area 4 regular season title for the Eagles, who will host the area tournament next month.

The game followed a competitive varsity girls contest that saw Linden prevail over the Lady Eagles 42-37 to force a tie atop Area 4.

A.L. Johnson led 15-9 after the first quarter but limped through an 11-6 second quarter to carry a 21-20 lead into half. Linden put the game away with a 17-9 fourth quarter.

Tomysha Boykins paced Linden with 16 points while Kierra Phillips had eight. Imiya Agee and Amber Robinson each finished with seven for Linden.

Tiffany Barber led A.L. Johnson with 12 points while Jameia Jones had eight and Larobyn Harris finished with seven.