Flushing - Early in December, the Linden boys’ basketball team hosted the Flushing Raiders. They scored early and often in that one, as they cruised to a 75-35 win. When the teams faced off again Friday night the points didn’t come as easy, but the Eagles used a suffocating defense to top the home team, 49-33.
The Eagles held Flushing to only seven points in each of the first two quarters. They followed that by allowing the Raiders a paltry five points in the third.
The Eagles were in the double bonus in the first half and after a technical foul on the Raiders and two Blake Lund free throws, Linden was up 30-12 late in the first half. A late bucket by Flushing made it Linden 30-14 at the break.
Junior standout Blake Lund had 19 of those 30 first half points. Seniors Seeger DeGayner and Brenden Miller had seven and six rebounds respectively heading into the second half.
Both teams really struggled to score in the third quarter. Neither squad made any points until a Lund steal was followed by an easy basket by Eli Beil on other end with just over five minutes to play in the third. Linden led 38-19 after three quarters. Both teams substituted freely in the fourth to account for the final margin.
DeGayner had a huge night on the boards. The athletic forward had 15 rebounds. He also dropped in seven points.
“My role on the team is not to shoot the ball but to stay in the paint,” said DeGayner. DeGayner has a 38-inch vertical leap helping to make up for the overall lack of size Linden faces. At 6-foot-2, he plays much taller and is a dominating force on both ends of the floor under the basket.
“Our offense played out of our minds that first game (against Flushing),” said DeGayner. “We really tried to take it to them on defense (tonight).”
Beil finished with only two points but had a big night directing the Linden offense and on the defensive end. He had four steals that were important in stalling any momentum that the Raiders could muster.
Talking about the Eagles’ defensive effort, Beil said, “That is one of our focuses in practice. We just try to lock up and not give up any easy buckets.” Beil is looking for a big matchup with Clio Mustangs at home on Tuesday, after losing a heartbreaker to the Mustangs last year. “They beat us last year by one, in overtime,” said Beil. “We are really looking forward to that one.”
Linden coach Chris Root commended his team on this night’s effort. “We play hard. We have kids with good character,” said Root. “Day in, and day out, they allow me to coach them. They take criticism (well). We can actually talk about executing instead of having to coach effort.”
“We’ve got four guys on the floor that can shoot it. We’ve got four guys on the floor that can handle it pretty well so if you try to press us we’re able to move it pretty well. It’s all about our defense. It’s all about our effort and defense.”
Blake’s younger brother, Reichen Lund, had six points, all coming from beyond the arc. DeGayner finished with seven points. Junior Gavin Wildeman came off the bench to drop in five. Miller also had five along with eight rebounds and two steals.
Landen Moore-Pierce led all scorers for Flushing. He had 11 points. Spencer Willman had five.
The Raiders are now 8-5 in the Flint Metro League and 9-5 overall.
The Eagles upped their season record to 10-1 and 12-2 respectively while looking forward to avenge last year’s loss to Clio on Tuesday at home.