LINDEN — After a shaky start, Linden settled in behind the tandem of Dequan Charleston and Deantre Johnson to pick up a 77-64 South sub-regional victory over McIntosh Tuesday.
Linden found itself down 28-13 early in the second quarter before it managed to turn the momentum against the visiting Demons.
“Stepping up the defense. We stepped up the defense. We added a little pressure. We ran the press a little bit. We stepped up and extended the 1-3-1 to slow the three-ball down,”
Linden coach Demetrice Jackson said of his team’s turnaround.
The Patriots took their first lead of the contest with 1:29 to go in the first half when Kevin Green dished to Graderius Brown for a three that put Linden up 35-32. Linden moved that lead to 39-34 by halftime.
In the second half, a back-and-forth affair ensued as McIntosh seniors Kentavious Thomas and Justin Reed each drained a triple early in the third quarter to give the Demons a 40-39 lead.
With Isaiah Scott sitting much of the second half due to injury, Dequan Charleston assumed point guard duties and became a stabilizing force for the Patriots.
“Dequan has been here for five years. When I was at Brantley, Dequan was in the eighth grade. We played them in the regional finals down in Dothan. As an eighth grader he hit us for 13. He has been doing it for five years now on the varsity level,” Jackson said. “With him doing it for that long on the varsity level, he knows what it takes. He doesn’t show much emotion about it. It just does it in a calmly manner.”
Charleston finished the night with 25 points, 14 rebounds, seven steals and four assists. The final lead change came late in the third quarter when Johnson stole the ball and hit Brown in transition to put Linden up 52-50. Linden used its press to fuel a 19-9 run in the fourth quarter to punctuate the contest.
Johnson added 22 points and nine rebounds for Linden. Scott added eight points and 10 rebounds in limited action. Brown had 11 points. As a team, the Patriots racked up 21 steals.
McIntosh saw freshman Antony Witherspoon pour in 20 points to lead the way. Reed added 14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. William Johnson had 11 points and nine rebounds. Thomas finished with 10 points. Emmanuel Perry grabbed 11 rebounds.
Linden (19-9) advances to the South Regional in Dothan Friday where it will meet Pleasant Home (21-7) in a contest scheduled to tip at 4:30 p.m.
“In the short period of time, we want to work on knowing your place on the floor. The sightlines are different. The court is 10 feet longer and I want to say eight to 10 feet wider,” Jackson said. “That being said, we’re going to see if we can get a little scouting report on them. We went to the Brantley tournament during Christmas break and we watched them there. They have a couple of shooters that we’re going to have to keep a hand in their face to contest a shot. If they’re taking a high percentage shot, we need to contest it all the way. I want to make sure we get out in front and stay out in front. We’re going to prepare tomorrow and Thursday and, Lord willing, be ready to play on Friday.”