Linson saves best for last

Published 3:19 am Thursday, March 6, 2003

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Assistant Sports Editor
GREENVILLE -- Damien Linson didn't finish his basketball career the way he would have liked, but he did finish it in typical Damien Linson fashion.
Linson played with all his heart and with nothing but class, but it just wasn't quite enough.
Despite his team trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter, Linson led a spirited comeback. However, it fell just short, as the Vikings (25-3) saw their season come to a close with an 85-79 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill (23-4) in the Class 1-A Eastern Regional semifinals at Minges Coliseum on Wednesday.
It was vintage Linson in the fourth quarter, as he nearly led his Vikings to one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history. Thanks to 11 straight points by Linson, Plymouth used a 15-0 run to pull within a single point, 72-71. But the Bulldogs hit key free throws down the stretch to advance to the Eastern Regional championship game.
The Bulldogs seemed to have the game in hand, leading for nearly the whole contest. A 10-0 run in the first quarter gave Wallace-Rose Hill a 13-5 lead, and Plymouth was forced to play catch-up from there.
Coach Steve Robinson, who coached for two years at Chocowinity High School, watched his team increase their lead to 13 at the half and 18 after three periods.
When Jeremy Perkins got inside for a bucket to start the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs saw their lead grow to 20, 66-46.
But instead of quitting, the Vikings made a valiant comeback attempt. Plymouth, 50-6 over the past two seasons, used its patented pressure defense to cause a handful of turnovers.
Linson scored 14 of his 25 points in the final eight minutes to key the comeback.
The senior, who added five rebounds, five assists and four steals to his totals, buried a triple with some four minutes to play to start his personal 11-0 run. The trey also pulled the Vikings within 72-61.
Linson followed that up with two spectacular baskets in the lane, getting fouled each time in the process. He converted both three-point play opportunities, trimming Plymouth's deficit to 72-67.
With the Viking fans on their feet, Linson got the crowd even livelier when he stole the ball and coasted in for a lay-up, making it 72-69 with 2:50 remaining.
Letrell Cherry hit two free throws at the 1:48 mark to make it a one point game, 72-71.
The Bulldogs, which got 25 points from Donald Tate, were able to push their lead to 76-71. Carter, who led all scorers with 33 points – including 12 in the fourth quarter, then tried to bring Plymouth back. The junior converted a three-point play and later added two free throws to make it 78-76.
After the Bulldogs went back up by five, Linson drilled another trey, cutting the deficit to 81-79 with 37 seconds left. But the magic ran out for the Vikings, as did their season.
It was the final game for six Plymouth seniors: Linson, Travis Fuller, Anthony White, Brandon Wilkins, Lamar Craig and Treymayne Jackson.
Carter, who grabbed eight rebounds, dished off two assists and blocked two shots, said that he'll miss his senior teammates next year.
Linson also taught a few things to his coach.
And Linson will miss Plymouth.
And off went Damien Linson in typical Damien Linson fashion. A class act with a big heart.