Fluker has 26 in Linden’s win over John Essex

Published 11:30 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Patriots moved to within one game of clinching the regular season area crown Thursday with a 79-59 win over John Essex.

“The big difference is we’ve just gotten so much better,” head coach Joe Eatmon said of his team, which lost to the Hornets by two in a meeting earlier this season. “We’re getting better everyday.”

Linden held a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter before charging out to a 24-point advantage by the close of the opening half.

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“What I really liked about us is in that second quarter we really got out and we really got aggressive and got on our press,” Eatmon said of a Patriot defense that fueled its win.

Eatmon switched to a zone defense in the second half to offset the foul trouble into which his team had gotten. The change allowed John Essex senior Zackary Fluker to take advantage.

“I went zone early in the third quarter and he got off,” Eatmon said of Fluker, who hung 26 points on the Patriots in the contest.

Linden countered with its own senior guard, Ajalon Bruno, who put up 26 points in the effort. Senior Kendarius Goodwill complemented his performance with a19-point output.

His team hosts Sunshine Friday. A win in that game would sew up the Patriots’ chances to host the upcoming area tournament.

“I think that we’re pretty focused,” Eatmon said. “I don’t think there will be a letdown. There are no detours anymore.”