By Steve Fields
RICHMOND — Dess Fougerousse and Austin Karazsia accounted for 61 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in Linton’s first-ever high school basketball semistate victory at Richmond High School.
But the roles of Bryant Jackson, Keith Fulk and Jackson Bohnert were pivotal to the Miners’ 76-75 overtime win over Speedway in the Class 2A semistate contest. Statistically, the trio accounted for 15 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and six assists, but it was the timing of those plays that helped lift the Miners into the Class 2A State Championship game next week.
“We have 6-8 [Karazsia] and 6-5 [Fougerousse] and they’re crazy athletes, they’re crazy basketball players. They’re just really good and we just got to keep getting them the ball, so they can keep scoring for us and and-ones [free throws]. Then me, Bryant, Keith and A.K. and Dess we just have to stay together as a team and play strong [defense] and get boards,” Bohnert said of the Miners’ overtime plan.
Bohnert, a 6-4 junior, was responsible for guarding Speedway’s Justin Brent. The 6-3 Brent scored 17 points and had six rebounds, but Bohnert came up with four steals, including one with 1:24 left in the game.
With Linton leading 70-69, Speedway had the ball and a chance to take the lead when Bohnert grabbed the basketball. Seconds later Karazsia turned the possession into two free throws and a 72-69 edge.
“Jackson played amazing. His defense was awesome. He had a lot of big layups, a big steal at the end [of the game],” Karazsia.
Speedway never led by more than three points because Linton’s defense came up with big plays. With the score tied 53-53 in the third period, Speedway had the ball with a chance to go ahead when Linton’s Jackson reached out and tipped the ball to Fulk.
“I didn’t really mean to get my hand on it, I just got lucky on that one,” Jackson said.
When the Sparkplugs tried to back off Fulk, the 5-11 senior popped a three-pointer to give the miners a 56-53 lead.
“We’re a big family. We play together, we became real good friends over this year and we play together really well. We have such good chemistry is hard for everybody not to contribute,” Jackson said.
Linton’s largest lead of the night was 41-33 midway through the third quarter. Jackson caught the ball just left of the point and found himself wide open, as the Sparkplugs sagged back to cut off the inside feed. Jackson swished the three and the Miners led 39-33.
Fougerousse hit two free throw to give Linton a 76-73 lead with 20.2 seconds left to play. The Miners gave up a layup to Speedway’s Corey Ross, giving him the shot uncontested.
There were just seven seconds on the clock when the official handed Fulk the basketball. And with a sea of blue and red clad fans at the other end waiting to rush the court, Fulk just stood there. He called timeout with 1.5 seconds on the clock.
“We looked a lot better doing that today than we did last Saturday morning [in the regional],” Hart said.
After the timeout, Speedway made a desperation pass, but the celebration was on.
“Going to the state, that’s amazing, that’s great. We’re still getting better. We wanted to keep practicing because we really feel we’re still getting better. Dess is working harder than ever. He’s always been a great player [now] he’s going to take it to a different level,” Hart said.