Linden falls to Spring Garden in state championship

IMG_5806BIRMINGHAM — The clock struck midnight on Linden’s cinderella season Thursday in the Class 1A state championship game at Legacy Arena as it fell to Spring Garden 64-38. The Lady Patriots led for all of 51 seconds after a Dajia Miller shot fell in early in the first quarter to open the scoring. Spring Garden then surged to a 20-8 lead by the end of the frame, connecting on four three-pointers in the frame to account for the difference.

Amber Richardson, Teressa Bolden and Dajia Miller during the post-game press conference

Amber Richardson, Teressa Bolden and Dajia Miller during the post-game press conference

“They made a lot more than I thought they were going to make shooting from the outside,” Linden coach Teressa Bolden said. “Looking at the stats from the other games, they weren’t hitting as many of them, but they’re a good shooting team.”

“That’s not something you can count on every night, but we really rely on it,” Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said. “It allowed the game to turn to them on the perimeter. We had a good matchup inside with Tykeah (Rogers) and I thought she played a smart game and finished around the basket really well.”

Linden coach Teressa Bolden

Linden coach Teressa Bolden

The perimeter shooting excellence from Spring Garden, who connected on 7 of their 15 attempts in the game, allowed Rogers to take over on the inside in the second half where she went to work to the tune of 17 points in the final 16 minutes.

“They were trying to get me in foul trouble from what I was seeing on the court. Coach Austin told me to go to the top of the key and face up to see what I had and that’s what I did,” Rogers said.

Linden trailed 33-18 at half and was down by 19 by the end of the third. The Lady Patriots worked the deficit to as few as 11 points multiple times but failed to get the lead to single digits at any point.

In the second quarter, Linden got a Miller shot, a Tomysha Boykin put-back, a Miller floater and a Kiera Phillips free throw in the span of 54 seconds to cut it to 29-18.

Linden's Amber Richardson made the All-Tournament team. She is pictured here with Madison Sides, Savannah Dempsey and Tykeah Rogers of Spring Garden

Linden’s Amber Richardson made the All-Tournament team. She is pictured here with Madison Sides, Savannah Dempsey and Tykeah Rogers of Spring Garden

Linden made a run again in the third quarter after a Miller shot, a Richardson steal-and-finish, a Richardson put-back and a Boykin free throw in a one minute stretch to cut the deficit to 36-25 before Savannah Dempsey drained a triple to swing the momentum back to Spring Garden.

“I want to thank God for the opportunity and being in this position,” Bolden said. “I tell my girls, ‘Don’t let your head down. Only two teams still playing in the state of Alabama and you happen to be one of them.’ That’s big props for our girls and we’re very proud of our successful season.”

Spring Garden controlled the boards, out-rebounding Linden 46-25 to overcome the 19 turnovers it committed in the game.

“I thought that really stood out is how strong we’ve gotten in the last few years. That’s just a part of it,” Austin said. “You finish defense with rebounds. Our defense is pretty good as far as guarding the ball, but it’s not over until the ball is in your hands.”

Rogers, the Finals MVP, finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Dempsey added 16 points and 13 rebounds. Richardson, who transferred from John Essex along with Miller, made the All-Tournament team with a 15-point, nine-rebound performance.

Linden receives the state runner-up trophy from Luke Hallmark

Linden receives the state runner-up trophy from Luke Hallmark

“I’m proud to have made a difference because no one expected an unranked to go to the state championship,” Richardson said. “I’m happy for that. Like coach said, they’re a very good team and we hope to see them next year.”

Linden (18-7) loses only one senior, Phillips, and figures to return its core next season.

“We know what we need to work on for next year to get better so we won’t have to be sitting here (as runners up),” Miller, who scored eight points in the loss, said.