Linson, Cherry honored
KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
PLYMOUTH -- Standing near the free throw line, Damien Linson lobbed the basketball high in the air toward the basket. With sweat dripping from his forehead, Linson sprinted after the ball, soared near the rim, caught the ball and slammed it home.
Fittingly, Linson assisted himself on a basket. It was that athleticism that helped lead Plymouth to the Class 1-A Eastern Regional tournament for the second straight year. And it was that athleticism that helped earn Linson the 2003 Washington Daily News Boys' Player of the Year award.
Just like last season, Plymouth swept the boys' awards. Viking head coach Chris Cherry earned his second straight Coach of the Year honor. Plymouth's Kevin Nixon was last year's Player of the Year.
One of those players was Linson, who became much more than that to Cherry.
Linson praised Cherry for his coaching ability, but has more respect for him as a friend.
Never one to accept praise without spreading the wealth to others, Linson said he benefited greatly from strong parents, teammates and fans.
Cherry will definitely miss Linson, both on the court and off, next season. The Plymouth senior will be a hard one to replace.
Linson, who will play football at Central Michigan University next fall, came up with several huge games throughout the season. Recording a handful of triple-doubles, Linson ended his senior campaign by averaging 17.1 points, 7.7 assists, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 steals per game.
Linson was at his best in the final quarter of his high school career, coming in the Eastern Regional tournament. With his team trailing by 20 points with less than eight minutes to play, Linson scored 14 of his 25 points to help Plymouth nearly pull off one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history.
Linson actually scored 11 straight points at one juncture, keying a 15-0 run to pull the Vikings within 72-71. But the magic ran out, as Wallace-Rose Hill escaped with an 85-79 victory.
Cherry, 65-17 in four years at Plymouth, including 50-6 over the last two, guided the team to its second consecutive 25-3 season. Plymouth was also ranked fourth in the N.C. Coaches/iHigh.com Class 1-A poll.
Cherry will definitely keep tabs on his friend during his playing days with the Chippewas. Linson is looking forward to continuing his athletic career, but will definitely miss his time at Plymouth.
And Linson is going to be hard to replace.