Linden — It had appeared the Linden varsity boys basketball team was preparing to take control of its contest against its greatest rivals, the Fenton Tigers, during the third quarter.

 Linden enjoyed a 27-18 halftime lead against the Tigers and the lead grew to as many as 30-22 after a three-pointer by Joe Miller.

 The Linden lead was still 32-27 after a putback baby hook shot by Jase Becher, but only a few seconds later a whistle blew and Linden’s leading scorer Reichen Lund was called for his fourth foul.

 The result was the Eagles had to play without their scoring leader for a handful of minutes, enabling the Fenton Tigers to not only remain in the contest, but to actually begin the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run and take a 35-32 lead.

 However, Lund returned to action and scored eight fourth-quarter points, helping lead the Linden Eagles to a tight 45-42 victory against the Fenton Tigers, Friday night.

 “The guys took care of the ball pretty well and we played pretty well on defense,” Lund said about the period he had to sit out. “Teams have been throwing two guys at me this year and trying to take the ball out of my hands. My team is doing really well taking care of the ball and keeping the pressure off me.

 “I’m not one to talk about myself like this, but when the guys get me open and create shots for me, I feel like I can take over.”

 A driving layup by Ja’Hion Bond enabled the Tigers to take a 35-32 lead with 5:30 left in the fourth, but once Lund came in, the Eagles slowly retook control. First off, he assisted a three-pointer by Miller, tying the contest at 35-all. Fenton answered with a driving layup by Seth Logan, but Lund hit back-to-back midrange jumpers, giving the Eagles a 39-37 lead with 2:12 remaining.

 Fenton jumped out to a 40-39 lead on a three-pointer by Logan, but a driving four-foot jumper by Lund gave the Eagles the lead for good, leading at the time 41-40. Two converted free throws by Monte Keener upped the Linden edge to 43-40. Fenton did cut the gap back to just one at 43-42 on two converted free throws by Lance Barkholz with 57.5 seconds left, but two converted free throws by Lund with 17.3 seconds left, gave Linden a 45-42 lead. Fenton did have two three-point shots in the final 13 seconds trying to tie the game, but both shots missed.

 The win keeps the Eagles atop the Flint Metro League Stripes Division with a 5-0 record, while the Tigers now hold a 3-2 division record and are most likely out of the title hunt. But, more importantly, the Eagles continued their recent domination of Fenton.

 “It’s pretty big,” Lund said about the rivalry. “This is my senior year. We have four seniors on the team and three returning players from last year. It’s pretty big for us, and we are looking to get our fourth Metro League championship in a row.”

 Linden’s second-year head coach Lance Belill is starting to learn the importance of this battle.

 “I talked about it in the locker room about making the team proud,” Belill said. “There’s 12 guys in that locker room that battle every single day in practice, and there’s a whole community that has their back. And tonight, this is what it is all about. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. I couldn’t be more proud of the community that came out. This gym was crazy loud and that was a lot of fun.”

 Fenton varsity boys basketball coach Chad Logan had a different view of the rivalry.

 “There’s nothing to say; we can’t beat them,” Logan aid. “It’s not a rivalry when you can’t win. What is that? Eight in a row, maybe. Maybe we are the little brother. When you don’t execute and you take bad shots, you are going to lose.”

 The contest was close throughout, but the Eagles usually led. Linden led 27-18 at halftime on the strength of 10 Lund first-half points.

 Lund finished the contest with a team-high 18 points while River Meckstroth netted seven points and Miller had six points. Logan led Fenton with 11 points, but he was well below his season average. Bond netted 10 points while Sam Dillard II had eight points. 

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