LINDEN, NJ- The Linden High School boys varsity basketball team took to the floor Tuesday night against the Roselle Catholic High School Lions (ranked No. 1 on NJ.com’s Top 20), who have been a force this season and proved why they’re the top team in the state of New Jersey.
The Tigers (ranked No. 6 on NJ.com’s Top 20) fell behind by a score of 7-0 and never really got in sync on both sides of the ball, losing to the Lions by a final score of 65-45 Tuesday night in Linden.
Roselle Catholic received early points from senior Naz Reid, senior Itheil Norton and a three-point shot from senior Kahlil Whitney, forcing Linden to use their first timeout after the first three minutes of action.
The Tigers would get within 7-4 less than a minute later, but the Lions continued to shoot the ball and connect on their shots, closing out the first quarter on a 10-6 run to take a 17-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
As the second quarter went along, the Tigers continued to battle to get back in the game. Junior Schadrac Petit-Homme scored on a shot and senior Tavon Jones drained a deep three-point shot that cut Roselle Catholic’s lead down to 21-15 with 4:20 left before halftime. The closest Linden got to Roselle Catholic was 23-17, falling behind 31-20 as the teams went in for halftime.
Roselle Catholic created some of their scoring chances with getting turnovers, rushes, fast-breaks and work inside the paint. They continuously answered after Linden would connect on shots to pad their lead.
Roselle Catholic had a major height advantage over Linden, which played a major role in their securing of rebounds and their preventing of Linden’s attempts for second chances after missed shots.
The struggles for Linden were very evident along the court. They missed shots down the stretch and Roselle Catholic was able to continue adding points on the scoreboard that caused the Tigers to be behind throughout major portions of the game.
“Our practice [Monday] was bad and it really showed in the game today,” Linden senior Mikey Watkins said.
As the third quarter got started, both Roselle Catholic and Linden traded points, with the Lions out in front by a score of 36-28 with 5:05 left in the quarter. Roselle Catholic responded by going on a 6-0 scoring run, receiving two baskets from Whitney and one from junior Jason Battle to go up 42-28.
Whitney finished the evening with 12 points.
Following a three-point shot from Watkins of Linden, Roselle Catholic went right back to work on offense.
The Lions went on a 9-0 scoring run to close out the quarter, receiving five more points from Whitney and a basket from senior Ithiel Horton. Roselle Catholic led Linden 51-31 after three quarters and cruised through the fourth quarter to secure the win.
“We just have to move on and learn from it,” Watkins added, looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“We move forward together. This team is very young and still have a lot to learn,” Jones said. “We’ll practice [Wednesday], watch more film and get ready for Thursday against Saint Mary's [of the Assumption HS].”
The Lions, as a team, drained five three-point shots to fuel their push on offense. In the win, Horton scored 15 points for the Lions, while Reid added ten points. Junior Josh Pierre-Louis added 11 points.
In the loss, Jones scored 19 points, while sophomore Myles Ruth added ten points for the Tigers.
The Linden Tigers (11-3) look to rebound when they travel to play at St. Mary of the Assumption HS on Thursday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m.