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Linn plays strong second half in loss to Father Tolton

Blake Snyder of Linn drives between Father Tolton teammates James Golden (left) and Josh Boyer during Wednesday night’s Class 2 sectional game at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Blake Snyder of Linn drives between Father Tolton teammates James Golden (left) and Josh Boyer during Wednesday night’s Class 2 sectional game at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Kris Wilson.

A big Linn crowd didn’t have a lot to cheer about in the first two quarters Wednesday night.

The Wildcats got them on their feet in the final two periods.

Down by 19 at the half to Father Tolton in a Class 2 sectional game at Fleming Fieldhouse, the Wildcats got things together in the final two quarters in a 69-49 loss to the Trailblazers.

“We had a lot of people drive over here and pay $6 to watch us play,” Linn coach Greg Koetting said. “We needed to show them what we were capable of doing.

“We gave them a half, showing what we could do and at that point, that’s all I can ask.”

A pair of 10-0 runs in the first half proved pivotal. A layup by Jesse Wiggins gave the Wildcats a 4-2 lead with 5:15 to go in the first quarter, but Linn wouldn’t get on the scoreboard again until the final minute of the period which ended with Father Tolton holding a 12-6 lead.

“I was afraid we’d be a little nervous and I think that got to us on our outside shots,” Koetting said. “We’d played them before and we knew if we took it to the basket, they had a couple of shot-blockers.”

The Trailblazers, just 4-of-16 from the field in the first quarter, found their shooting touch in the second period. They were 8-of-11 from the field and stretched their lead to 32-13 at the break.

On the flip side, Linn was just 3-of-13 in the second quarter and 5-of-21 in the half.

Michael Porter had a double-double in the first half for Father Tolton. Touted as one of the top freshmen in the country, the 6-6 guard totaled 13 points while grabbing 11 rebounds in the first two quarters. The Trailblazers held a 23-12 edge on the boards in the first half.

The Wildcats regrouped at the break and basically played the Trailblazers even in the second half.

“We kind of embarrassed ourselves, so we went out and played hard and not afraid,” Koetting said.

And that meant taking the ball to the basket.

“I finally got a couple of them to take to the hole hard and all the way, not pulling up for a shot,” Koetting said. “And we finally got something going.”

Tolton led 46-26 after three quarters. Linn got as close in as 14 points in the final period.

Porter finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds for Father Tolton (20-7).

“We’ll probably see him on TV some day,” Koetting said.

James Church added 14 for the winners, while Josh Boyer chipped in with 12.

Wiggins was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 10 points. He also led the team with six rebounds.

Wiggins is one of seven seniors who played their final game for Linn. The others are Jake Butts, Trevor Nenninger, Zach Neuner, Kyle Nolting, Jedd Oidtman and Sam Vogel.

Linn (16-11) does return several players who saw significant time Wednesday night.

“I’d be ready to start (today),” Koetting said. “I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years, they’re going to be fun.”

Father Tolton advances to Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinal against Canton (26-1) at Moberly Area Community College. Game time is 1:45 p.m.

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