It has been a tough start to the season for the Linden varsity boys basketball team.
Like every other team in the state of Michigan, the season was delayed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Finally, the team was able to play its first game on Feb. 9 at Carman-Ainsworth. The team was days away from its second game — and first Flint Metro League contest of the season — when the Eagles found out one of the referees in their first game was struck with COVID, forcing the team on the sidelines for 10 days.
That meant no practices for 10 days and that meant that when the Eagles returned to action on Friday, they had yet to even practice before Friday morning. Yet, the Eagles found a way to fight through those struggles and earn a hard-fought 62-53 at home against the Swartz Creek Dragons.
“I never felt so unprepared for a game in my life,” Linden varsity boys basketball coach Lance Belill said. “Today was our first day out of quarantine. ... I haven’t seen them in 10 days. We definitely gutted this one out. It was not easy and not pretty but we got the win.”
Due to rust, the Eagles fell behind early on.
“They jumped on us in the first quarter,” Belill said. “They got up eight points in the middle of the first quarter, but we battled back. In the fourth quarter we’d get up by six or eight points and keep it there. It was a close game. I never felt comfortable.
“They had it at four and we made a couple of key stops on defense.”
The Eagles (1-1) were paced by Eli Beil who had 15 points. Meanwhile, Blake Lund and Matt Wisniewski netted 14 points each.
Belill was impressed by his squad ability to deal with the early season adversity.
“From day one when we got here we realized we were going to have to handle adversity and it definitely has been thrown in our face from the get go,” Belill said. “I’m super proud of the kids. They’ve had as good as an attitude as you can possibly have.”
The Eagles will not return to action today with a home game against Clio at 5 p.m.