Linden season ends in loss to Brantley

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Jon Johnson
Dothan Eagle

DOTHAN – Big-time players step up in big-time situations.

Wesley Person Jr. stepped up when Brantley needed him most Wednesday in the Class 1A South Regional at the Dothan Civic Center.

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Person scored 31 points, which included hitting 14-of-15 free throws, in Brantley’s hard-fought 55-51 win over Linden in the regional semifinals.

Brantley (19-5) advances to play the winner of Wednesday night’s late game between Sunshine and J.F. Shields for the regional title on Saturday at 10:40 a.m.

Linden ends its season at 23-3.

Person, a 6-foot-2 junior guard and son of former Auburn and NBA standout Wesley Person, scored 16 of his points in the fourth quarter, which included connecting on 9-of-10 free throw tries.

“I did a pretty good job tonight on the free throw line,” Person said. “I just had to step up in the big moments and knock down free throws.”

Linden turned the momentum of the game in the third quarter, holding the Bulldogs to just four points in the period. Brantley, which led 30-23 at halftime, was clinging to a 34-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.

That’s when Person took over, scoring the first six points of the final stanza to put Brantley up 40-33 with six minutes left.

Linden, however, fired back with a 3-pointer by Shauka Reese and two made free throws by Christien Rogers to pull back within two.

Person then scored eight straight Brantley points to push the lead to 48-40 with 2:30 left and the Bulldogs got a breakaway dunk by O.J. Guice to make it a 10-point game with 2:11 remaining.

The Patriots refused to go down without a fight. Dequan Charleston connected on a 3-pointer – his only basket of the game – with 55 seconds left to pull Linden within 52-49.

After a Brantley turnover, Linden made it 52-51 when Imoras Agee scored on a nice leaner with 33.8 seconds left.

Person was fouled with 26.9 seconds left and missed his only free throw of the night, but connected on the second try to put Brantley up 53-51.

Linden was whistled for a traveling call on the ensuing possession, giving the ball back to Brantley with 16.3 seconds left. Guice was fouled and hit the back end of two free throws to extend the lead to three with 13 seconds left.

Linden’s Nicholas Rogers launched a long 3-pointer in an attempt to tie the game, but it was off the mark and Terence Bogen came down with the rebound and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left. He hit one of two free throws for the final margin of victory.

“I thought they played hard and did everything I asked,” Brantley coach Andrew Kilcrease said. “Shot free throws well in the second half, a lot better than the first half. We preach free throws. That was a big key to us down the stretch, making free throws. I think our guys played great defense also. We try to talk about team aspects of the game and they’ve done a good job with that.”

Guice, a junior, said the team leaders knew they had to step forward in the fourth quarter.

“We had to step up for our team,” Guice said. “We had to pick it up for them as leaders on the team.”

Guice followed Person in scoring with 10 points.

Linden was led by Reese with 19 and Agee with 14.

Linden coach Roosevelt Moore was proud of his team’s effort, especially on defense in the third quarter.

“They played outstanding defense the third quarter,” Moore said. “We came out in the second half wanting to speed the game up and force some of their guys to make plays. So that sort of got us back in the game. Foul troubles hurt us in the fourth quarter and bad decisions with the ball. We had a couple of traveling turnovers. Early in the game we missed a lot of free throws early, and that’s pretty uncharacteristic for our team. And they pretty much made a majority of their free throws throughout the game. And that was pretty much the difference.”

Brantley made 22 of 32 free throws in the game. Linden made 8 of 14.