Press powers Linden past McIntosh in South Regional

DOTHAN —Linden turned to its press to overcome early offensive woes and down McIntosh 58-38 in the first round of the Class 1A South Regional at the Dothan Civic Center Thursday.

“Getting the stops early meant a lot because it helped us with getting into the flow of the game. I think defense always brings our offense,” Linden coach Teressa Bolden said. “When we play good defense, we have a way of finding the ball on the other end. We started pressing also because they’re more comfortable with the press.”

Linden (16-6) swung the game in the second quarter when it embarked on a 23-4 run over the final 5:13 of the frame to take a 30-13 halftime lead. The Lady Patriots trailed 9-8 when a dead ball technical foul against McIntosh gave Linden a trip to the charity stripe and possession. Shortly thereafter, Linden cashed in defensive disruption for transition buckets, finishing the half on a 16-0 stretch over the last 3:15

“It took us time us time to get into the rhythm of the game. I’m not sure if it was nervous, anxious, first-time jitters. I’m thinking that had a lot to do with our slow start,” Bolden said of her team’s early offensive struggles.

“I started to feel more comfortable with my shots and I realized that some of them are just not going to drop. I had to take my time and just go to the rack,” junior guard Imiya Agee, who led Linden with 14 points, said.

Linden got balanced production from its quartet of leading scorers as well as the team’s lone senior, Kiera Phillips.

“Keira stepped up big tonight, especially on defense and then she surprised me with a couple of good shots. As the only senior on the team, she stepped up big tonight,” Bolden said. Phillips had eight points in the game.

Dajia Miller and Amber Richardson, who each transferred from John Essex after the school was closed, contributed double-digit points. Richardson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Miller had 11 points.

“It’s amazing because I never got this far with John Essex,” Richardson a sophomore, said of the experience of winning a region tournament game. “I’m proud to say I’m a Lady Patriot and I hope to spend my next two years here.”

Tomysha Boykin had nine points for Linden. Shanteria Witherspoon had 14 points to lead McIntosh while Hattae Henderson scored 13.

Linden will face J.F. Shields in the South Regional Final at the Dothan Civic Center Monday at 3 p.m.

“They’ve got good guard play and they do have a good post player. Same thing, focus on our defense,” Bolden said. “Focusing one defense is the main point for us.”

Shields beat Pleasant Home 58-44 Thursday afternoon.