Linden Hall reached the midway point of its basketball season on Monday night.
The regular-season portion, at least. The way the Lions are going, there’s a really good chance the defending District Three Class 2A champions will be playing well into March yet again this winter.
Linden Hall continued its blistering start with a convincing 64-19 nonleague victory over Columbia, as the Lions blitzed the host Crimson Tide with a game-opening 15-0 spree, and built a commanding 28-1 lead before anyone broke a sweat.
“That’s a fine ball-club right there,” said Columbia coach Karl Kreiser, who picked up his 200th career victory for the Tide last week. “I’m very impressed with them. They have height — and the height can shoot from the outside. And their guards are quick. They’re going to be tough to beat in 2A.”
Linden Hall started the week atop the D3-2A rankings, and they’ll be out to defend their title next month. The Lions, who are playing an independent schedule this season, beat Columbia for their 10th win in a row, and they are 10-1 overall, with their lone loss coming back in the season-opener against undefeated Delone Catholic, the reigning 3A state champ.
There is plenty to like in Linden Hall’s camp, and it starts with a pair of 6-foot Division I commits, Favour Mbeledeogu and Jumoke Adaramoye.
Against Columbia, Adaramoye, bound for the University of San Fransisco, scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and was a force in the paint. Meanwhile, Mbeledeogu, who will be heading to Manhattan College, hit three first-quarter 3-pointers — helping stake the Lions to a 23-1 lead — and she scored a game-high 16 points, as Linden Hall never let Columbia up for air.
“I’m excited,” Linden Hall first-year coach Ellen Bair said. “We have high hopes. I have high expectations. And I’m excited to see where we end up. We still have a lot to learn, but I think we also have a lot more to show, which is really exciting for me.”
Linden Hall’s third 6-footer, Mercy Ademusayo, dominated in the lane against Columbia; she plucked 10 rebounds and chipped in with nine points and blocked a couple of shots as the Lions snared a 39-8 lead at the half, triggered the mercy rule in the third quarter, and out-rebounded the Tide (5-8 overall) by a 46-18 margin.
Sweet-shooting lefty Marta Celebic sparked Linden Hall’s bench brigade on Monday; she knocked down three 3-pointers and scored 13 points, as the Lions dominated in every phase of the game against the Tide, which got a team-high 10 points from MacKenzie Burke.
“I’m having a blast,” Bair said of her first year on the job in Lititz. “The team is amazing and sure, winning always helps. But so far, it’s been really exciting.”
With the potential to be even more exciting for the Lions, who should have plenty of big games — of the playoff variety — coming up on the horizon.