WHEELING – Linsly’s Stifel Field House hosted an OVAC Consolation game Friday night between the hosting Cadets and University Hawks. By way of an intense defensive effort- and a 25-point, 10-rebound night from Cadets junior D’arrae Goodwin- Linsly earned a 69-48 victory over the visiting Hawks.
Through the first few minutes, the two teams traded baskets, but while Linsly continued to score, the Cadets’ defense hindered the Hawks the rest of the first quarter. After being tied 2-2, 4-4 and 6-6, Linsly led 19-8 after one.
“Our defense is pretty good, I really liked our defense,” Linsly head coach Dave Wojcik said. “We forced the issue, I thought we wore them down a little bit, conditioning-wise.
“Our defense was good, which created easy opportunities on the other end for us.”
The second quarter was a near-replica of the first, the Cadets leading 33-15 at the half.
University’s offense roused themselves in the second half, more than doubling their first-half point total in the third quarter, Ethan Jackson scoring six points by way of a 3-pointer and an and-one to play the Cadets to a stalemate in the third.
Linsly kept University from gaining ground in part thanks to a big third quarter from Goodwin, who scored 10 points in the period. Goodwin scored in a variety of ways Friday- a turnaround fadeaway from the post, 3-pointers and long twos, a tough and-one driving layup, a twisting lay-in under the basket on a lob pass; the junior displayed it all Friday.
His coach’s main praise for his game came in other areas though.
“That’s what he does. He’s a stat-stuffer, that’s what we always call him,” Wojcik said of Goodwin. “He can score any night, he always rebounds it, but he’s always talking. He’s just such a good leader. He makes all the right plays and he anchors our defense. He creates a lot of havoc just from his talking in the back of the press. You can’t find that, that’s unusual.”
“When you have your best player be your best leader, it takes the pressure off the coaches, because he’s the one doing the talking. Peers, they look at eachother and they say ‘If he’s doing it, maybe I should be doing it, playing harder.’ That’s what D’arrae does, he makes everybody better, and that’s what good leaders do.”
A near even-second half did nothing to get the Hawks out of the hole they’d dug themselves into in the first half though, and Linsly rolled to 18-1 while University moved to 9-9.
Jackson and James Garbart led the Hawks with eight points apiece. Carson Ford led his team in both rebounds and assists, with six and three, respectively.
University shot 43% from the field and committed 20 turnovers.
For Linsly, Goodwin’s performance was followed by nine from both Naseef Lubowa and Jonah Vaysbakh. Vaysbakh also totaled five assists and three steals.
Linsly shot just over 40% from the field, but 53% on their two-point attempts. The Cadets forced plenty of turnovers, grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and were a near-perfect 10-11 from the foul line to make their shooting percentage just a footnote on the night.
Linsly can see the end of their season on the horizon as they take a trip to the Big Shot Prep Nationals in South Carolina at the end of the this month.
“I feel good, I feel like we’re at a good place right now,” Wojcik said. “We’re a little banged up right now, but overall we’re playing good basketball. They’re sticking together, they like each other and we have good chemistry. I’m looking forward to the last nine, and then we’ll go down there and see what we got against some good competition.”
University travels to face Elkins on Feb. 15. Linsly will host Western Reserve Academy on Feb. 13.