By DAVE MORRISON
MCMECHEN - Up by just three, having seen an 18-point lead evaporate in a haze of Bishop Donahue pressure and sharp-shooting, Linsly wore the look of a confident team.
Linsly’s Anthony Wallace brings the ball up court as Bishop Donahue’s Lavonte Hampton (4) defends.
Led by senior Anthony Wallace, who scored a career-high 45 points, the Cadets held off a spirited run by the Bishops in a 97-90 victory.
It was the ninth win in a row for Linsly (10-3).
"Our guys have been really good about compartmentalizing things," Linsly coach James Wallace said. "They embraced the situation. We call that 'Winning Time.' They knew it was not about what happened in the first half or the third quarter. They knew it was about the fourth quarter and they relished that situation. We've been there so many times."
Wallace, a four-year starter, certainly has, and he summoned that experience, as he had a big assist to sophomore big man Erik Taylor to break a 74-74 early in the fourth and then had a run a run of nine straight points, around four Bishop points, to restore an 85-78 lead.
Down the stretch, Taylor was big inside as the Cadets escaped the electric atmosphere inside the Bishop Donahue gymnasium.
As big as his point were, it might have been his defense that was even better.
Linsly abandoned its zone in the third and Wallace was put on Jesse Padlow, who had been instrumental in the third quarter comeback, along with freshman Taylor Straughn.
In the fourth quarter Padlow, who finished with 25 points, was held to four free throws.
On what amounted to a final run, and the game-winning run, Wallace made several hard shots, runners at the rim, often heavily defended and from as far away as 10 feet, that dropped with the soft touch of a seasoned veteran.
"Some of those shots he made were hard shots, 10 feet from the basket, and he made them look easy," Bishop Donahue coach Tom Wise said. "He made so many difficult shots when they needed him. They are an outstanding teams. They play well together and Wallace is the catalyst."
"He's been the leader of 'Winning Time,' " coach Wallace, no relation to his star senior, said. "When the ball is in Anthony's hands, we get a big assist. When the ball is in Anthony's hand, we get a big basket. When he is on the defensive end, we get a big stop. And the other guys feed off of that."
It looked to be over at the half, with Linsly leading 53-35, a half that saw them nearly unstoppable.
"You reach a point when you wonder if you can come up with a combination that can do something," Wise said. "Their pressure early confused us and we made some bad decisions. It seems like every time we made a mistake Wallace would go coast-to-coast for a layin."
Wise found his combination in the third in a smaller group that was able to space the floor better and open up lanes through the middle of the Linsly zone.
It started but grew rapidly, as Padlow and Straughn were active in getting to the basket. Straughn also had a pair of 3s and the Bishops tied it when Jared Yates nailed a 3 to tie the game at 65 and Padlow followed that with a putback inside to give Bishop the lead.
In all, the Bishops scored 35 points in the third, their total in the first half..
Straughn had 20 of his career-high 27 in the second half.
"A lot of times he will defer to the older guys," Wise said. "We kept telling him you have to take (open shots). I think tonight he finally listened to us."
Wallace said he expected the Bishop run.
"They are a good basketball team," coach Wallace said. "You never feel like a game with Bishop Donahue is out of hand, especially here. They came out in the third and shot the ball well. It was ultimately a game of runs. We had a good run in the first half, they made a good run in the third quarter and we made a nice run when we needed it."
In addition to Wallace's 45 points, Colton Coss added 16, Cole Griffin 13 and Isiah Harvin 12.
In addition to Straughn and Padlow combining for 52 points, Chaice Truex had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Levonte Hampton added 11.
Bishop Donahue now faces a stretch where it faces Charleston Catholic (Saturday), Magnolia (Tuesday), Tyler (Thursday) and Notre Dame (Friday).
Linsly is at Shadyside Saturday.