Linden season ends with loss to Brantley

Imoras Agee drives to the lane and looks for help against Brantley Wednesday. The Patriots lost to Brantley 55-51 to end their season.

Imoras Agee drives to the lane and looks for help against Brantley Wednesday. The Patriots lost to Brantley 55-51 to end their season.

DOTHAN — Linden (23-3) saw its season end in the first round of the Class 1A South Regional Tournament Wednesday with a 55-51 loss to Brantley (18-5).

In a contest characterized by poor Patriot shooting, Linden trailed by as many as 10 points on the night and managed to cut the deficit to 52-51 with 34 seconds remaining when Imoras Agee drove down the baseline from the left side and finished with a layup.

After Brantley’s Wesley Person uncharacteristically missed a free throw with 26.9 seconds left, Linden botched an opportunity to tie the game or take its first lead when it was called for a traveling violation with 16.9 to go.

Brantley then added free throws with 13 seconds left and 2.6 to play to ice the victory.

The Linden second-half run came after the Patriots trailed by seven at intermission and was sparked by a defensive effort that limited Brantley to just four points in the second half. The Linden defense allowed only five Brantley field goals over the game’s final 16 minutes.

“We came out in the second half and wanted to speed the game up and force some of their guys to make plays and it didn’t happen in the third quarter,” Linden head coach Roosevelt Moore said. “So that kind of got us back in the game.”

Linden appeared to have tied the game at 40 with 5:03 to play when eighth grader Dequan Charleston connected on a runner. But brief deliberation between the officials led to a foul call against Linden that negated the basket and started a 6-0 run for the Bulldogs.

Linden began to chip away at the deficit again, getting its biggest surge when Chris Rogers hit the front end of a trip to the foul line and missed the second, allowing Nicholas Rogers to grab the rebound and kick it to Shauka Reese for a triple that punctuated a four-point possession and left Linden down 50-46.

With a minute to play, Charleston showed his mettle again when he drained a three from the wing to cut the deficit to 52-49, setting up the Agee drive that proved Linden’s last gasp.

The Patriots shot a paltry 36.7 percent from the field in the game, connecting on only 18 of their 49 shot attempts.

“A lot of it was open looks. We just did not capitalize,” Moore said. “We had under the goal, missed free throws, missed open shots. And they just did not fall.”

Linden out-rebounded Brantley 32-26 but committed 25 personal fouls in the game, allowing Brantley to find 22 of its points at the free throw line.

“We missed some free throws early and that’s uncharacteristic of our team. They made a majority of their free throws throughout the game,” Moore said.

Person did most of the damage against Linden, scoring 31 points in the game including 14 of them from the free throw line. Otis Guice added 10 points for the Bulldogs.

Reese led the way for Linden with 19 points while Agee finished with 14.

The loss marks the third straight year Linden has ended its season on a four-point loss in the regional tournament.

“One thing it’s going to take is you’re going to have to be poised with that ball late in the game,” Moore said of what it will take for his team to get over the hump in the region tournament. “Anytime the game is close right there, you’re going to have to make better decisions to give your team a chance to win. You cannot walk away with a turnover on a possession when it is a one-possession game.”

The Patriots cap the 2012-2013 season with three losses by a total of seven points.

“We had a great season but it doesn’t many anything if we don’t win state,” Linden junior Kynard Criag said. “So I feel like it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win state.”

Moore is 75-28 in four years at the helm of the Linden program.