Linden, Sunshine clash in title game
Thursday night’s action set the stage for Saturday’s championship round that will see perennial power Sunshine attempt to defend home court against the upstart Linden Patriots. The teams are a contrast in styles and paths.
Sunshine entered the season as the area favorite and has held serve, going undefeated in area play on its way to an 18-4 overall record. The Lady Tigers have been fueled by the play of junior Shafontaye Myers, who is averaging more than 30 points per game on the year.
Conversely, Linden opened the year slowly, dropping key area games at A.L. Johnson and John Essex early in the season. However, the Patriots second-half surge landed them the No. 3 seed in the AHSAA Class 1A, Area 5 tournament. LHS has relied on a trio of players to ignite it offensively, receiving just over 10 points per game from Terrica Craig, Kileema Rogers and Meagin Hinton.
While Sunshine’s Myers is now a well-known commodity, Williams knows his team’s success Saturday night will be contingent upon more than slowing the Lady Tigers’ top scorer.
“They’ve got four other players that are as good as anybody we’ve got,” Williams said of the Sunshine roster. “We’re going to have our hands full.”
According to Williams, whose team is fresh off a 65-24 opening round victory over John Essex, will be less focused on stopping Myers than it will be on playing its brand of basketball.
“We just want to do what we do,” Williams said. “We don’t want to over coach.”
While Linden will try to refrain from making too many changes to its approach, Sunshine head coach Phillip Wagner is simply striving to keep his team focused. The SHS coach watched his team take only a six-point lead to the locker room against A.L. Johnson Thursday night and credits the early-game struggles to what he considered a lax attitude on the part of his team.
“If we take this team lightly, then we’ll be on the road playing (in sub-regionals),” Wagner said. “They’re a much better team than they were earlier in the year.”
The area championship game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip at Sunshine High Saturday.