Going into the 2016-17 season, we had a lot stacked up against us. We lost majority of our scoring and experience due to graduation. We only had two returning starters and we were predicted to finish in the bottom half of the Columbus City League this season. So, myself and along with the coaching staff definitely had the mindset that it was going be a re-building year for us.
In our first action during the summer, we played in a few summer shootouts against some stiff competition and got blown out in most of the games. After one of the shootouts, I vividly remembering seeing our guys talking to each other at Wendy’s on how the games went and what adjustments they would make going forward. I truly think that was a pivot point for our team, in which our players committed themselves to getting better individually and collectively.
Fast forward to the beginning of the season, we opened up with Westland HS and won in a convincing fashion. We beat them by 23 points and showed glimpses of greatness in that first game. For the first 6 games of this season, we went 5 -1, with some very entertaining victories against Mifflin and East. For the middle part of our season, we hit a few rough patches, where we lost some tough games against Heath, Mifflin and East. We ended up 8-4 through the first 12 games. Quite impressive start, for a team with the majority of the players playing JV in the previous year.
During the second half of the regular season, we went 5 - 4 with some notable victories over Beechcroft, Licking Valley and Centennial and some heart breaking loses to Northland, Mifflin and Dublin Coffman. Although the record doesn’t show it, I truly believe the last 9 games of the regular season forced us to mature as a team and really helped us going into the playoffs.
For the playoffs, we were the 10th in our district and we opened up against Amanda Clearcreek, in which we pulled out with a victory. The next round we pulled out with an upset against Bishop Hartley..our best game for the entire season, especially on the defense side of the court. Eventually, our season ended with a tough lose against Heath in the District semi-final game.
We ended with a 15-9 overall record for the 2016 -2017 season and a 9-5 record in the Columbus City League (one of the toughest conferences in Ohio). To be honest, I (and maybe some players) didn’t expect us to have a winning season and even make it far in the playoffs at the start of the season. I’m happy that our guys proved me and all of the doubters wrong. I’m looking forward to next season and how far we can make it on and off the court. #OneTeamOneFamily
“Our team this season performed better than anyone outside the program expected and exceeded my expectations after losing 7 seniors and returning only two players with varsity playing time this season. Finishing at 15-9 was our best season yet at Linden and we are looking forward to next season where we return every starter but one. This season was a great learning experience for all of our players and will help us reach even higher next season.” – Jeremy Stuhlfauth (Linden McKinley Boys Basketball – Head Coach)
“This was the season we took the next step in the rebuilding of a once great program. Teams will no longer look to schedule us for senior night or an easy win. Our guys rose to the occasion on multiple big stages. We're building a winner...this season was a culture changing season and we’re a year ahead of schedule.” – Vaughn McKoy (Linden McKinley Boys Basketball – Assistant Coach)
Coach Wilson’s Favorite Season Moments & Words of Encouragement
LaFonda – Your performance, offensively and defensively, during the East, Beechcroft and Northland (although we got cheated by the refs SMH) games were quite impressive. Your maturity and leadership is very uncommon for a young man that’s in high school. I see a lot of myself in you when I was your age. (It’s scary LOL). I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you beyond basketball during your college recruiting process. Continue to have your “grinding” mentality…it will dividends in all areas of your life. I’m looking forward to coming to your college games and seeing you become a successful man in the near future.
Damon – Your shooting and defense during our first playoff game against Amanda Clearcreek was great. Also your leadership and consistency throughout the season was tremendous for the team and it will be something we will need next season as well. Continue to work on your ball handling and shooting during the summer. Coach Dunston and film study will be your best friend going forward. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you D-Mighty (I hope I spelled that right LOL).
Faizon – Man where do I start? You had a lot of great moments this season, but my favorite was when your dunk during the Centennial game (away). It was very un-expecting and it provided a spark that the team needed. Just remember the conversation we had…be a “DOG” and have that “KILLER” instinct next year on and off the court. Work on your entire game..shooting, ball handling, defense, footwork…EVERYTHING. I’m looking forward to seeing you on the soccer field and basketball court next season. The sky is the limit for you Mr. Tucker.
Nate – Your performance during the first Mifflin game and the Bishop Hartley and Heath games in the playoffs were remarkable. I’ve witnessed you work at your game over the summer and it has paid HUGE dividends for you and the team this season. (For those of you who don’t know, the “Nasty Nate Hook” is UNSTOPPABLE). Perfect that hook shot and continue to rebound your ass off. This summer will be huge for you and I don’t have any doubt that you will push yourself to getting better. Continue to be a leader for the team. I can’t wait to witness your senior year Nate tha Great.
D’Amonte – Your alley oop dunk against Centennial HS was one of my favorite plays of the whole season. The rebounds and blocks you had during the season made a huge impact and help the team in many ways. This offseason will be HUGE for you. Continue to work on your game and make sure you are glued to Coach Harp’s hip…He will get you where you want to be at, both offensively and defensively. I’m looking forward to your development for the years to come.
Toree – You clutch 3’s against Mifflin and hitting the 2 free throws against Bishop Hartley in the playoffs was super CLUTCH. You were the glue of the team and your leadership and fearlessness was contiguous throughout the entire season. Coach Dunston and film study will be your best friend during the off season. I’m looking forward to your development to becoming one of the top PGs in Central Ohio. Continue to keep up the good work in the classroom too.
D’Von – Your defensive efforts during the entire playoffs was amazing. I wasn’t shocked at all. I knew you had it in you. This summer is going be huge for you. I'm looking forward to what you going do on the soccer field, since you “claim” you really good. LOL But for real, you are one of my favorites (and my fiancée’s favorites too), I’ve seen you mature into a great young man over the past 2 years…Just keep up the good work on the court and CONTINUE TO STAY in them BOOKS. The sky is the limit for you.
Jeff – Your almost double-double (You still owe Coach Harp for not getting it) against International was real good. Also your senior leadership and your “coaching” played a HUGE part in our success this season. I’m looking forward to what is next for you at the college level. Kill it during baseball season and finish the school year strong in the classroom. Your future is BRIGHT “South Carolina Jeff” aka “Ohio Top Athlete” (Inside Jokes LOL).
Tayron – Your energy off the bench truly helped the team throughout the season. We looked to you for that and you came through. Also your performance (offensively and defensively) during Senior Night was amazing. I knew that night was special for you, especially with your mother being there to see it. The future is YOURS…Create YOUR own path and make things happen for YOU. I’m here in your corner no matter what…I’m just a phone call away.
DeFranko – Your “Almost” dunk off a steal against International (I literally laughed out loud on the bench when it happened LOL) was pretty good. Keep working on your game, especially that jump shot (it’s actually getting better) and continue to work on your footwork. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for you on the court/field and in the classroom. Continue to make your mother proud and stay being a role model for your siblings.
David – Your tip dunk against the first Mifflin game was one of the “littest” (Is that even a word?) plays of the year. Great job stepping up on Varsity towards the end of the season. I’m looking forward to your development and the expansion of your role on the team next season. Keep grinding and working at your game. Trust me, the whole state will know your name very soon…Andrew Wiggins Jr. LOL
Jahquez – Your willingness to play JV as a Junior was quite impressive and showed a lot of maturity of your part (*inserts clapping hands emoji*). I’ve seen your game transition and get better over the last 2 years from JVB to JV/Varsity. Continue to work at your game offensively and defensively and everything will fall in place. Next year, we will be looking for you to play a major role on the team. Stay clear headed and be ready to work and stay in the books Mr. Mack.