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Lindner provides lift off bench for Comets
PARCHMENT -- The unselfish attitude and depth of Kalamazoo Christian's boys' basketball team was on display before a near-capacity crowd Friday night at Parchment. In the Comets' 65-36 runaway win in Kalamazoo Valley Association play, they registered assists on 17 of their 27 buckets. Eleven players scored for K-Christian (6-0, 4-0 KVA), including seven with five or more points, five grabbed at least three rebounds and four finished with three assists. Senior Joel Lindner, who sparked the Comets with eight points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench, is just happy to be a part of it. Last season, the 6-foot-2 jack-of-all-trades wasn't even on the roster. Lindner, who also stars in football and baseball, was cut by K-Christian basketball coach Jerry Mastenbrook.
``Last year, it was kind of a reality check. I almost took it for granted that I was going to be on the team. When I wasn't, I just worked hard,'' said Lindner, who plays anywhere from point guard to power forward on the Comets' second unit. ``All my friends are on the team, and I just love playing Kalamazoo Christian basketball -- it's a privilege.'' Mastenbrook said about Lindner: ``It's just a credit to him to come back out again. He kept in contact with me. He's a good kid. When I cut him, I said, `I'd really like for you to come out again next year. I can't guarantee you anything, but I see some potential.' And he just came out and worked hard. What a great attitude.'' K-Christian benefited from Lindner's energy Friday, particularly in the early going. Lindner scored four points in a competitive first quarter, and buried a 3-pointer from the right wing midway through the second quarter that broke a 22-22 tie and began an 11-0 Comets run to end the half.
K-Christian scored the first eight points of the third frame to take firm command. The Comets built the margin to as large as 31 points in the fourth. ``I'll tell you what happened -- (the Comets) took the press off,'' said Parchment coach Larry Bailey, whose team was able to capitalize on open-court opportunities in the first 12 minutes of the game. ``We want you to press us. You saw how we were scoring. We were scoring in transition. ``They're so big, so physical, it's hard to get where you want to go (in the half-court offense). This is the first time, tonight, that I've seen doubt in my kids' faces,'' added Bailey, whose team slips to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the KVA. ``That's what happens when you play a team like that.'' Junior forward Seth DeHaan scored a game-high 11 points for Parchment, which was outrebounded 29-16, turned the ball over 15 times and shot 14-of-36 (38.9 percent) from the floor. Freshman Adrian Patton had seven points in a reserve role for the Panthers.
For K-Christian, senior guard Mike VanderPloeg had a team-high 10 points and three assists. Senior wing David VanderHorst contributed nine points and three steals for the Comets, while senior reserve guard Eric Lubben and junior forward Travis Hilton added eight points apiece. Senior guard Corey Scheffers finished with seven points, five rebounds and three assists for the Comets, who had 13 turnovers and shot 57.4 percent (27-for-47) from the field, including 5-for-12 from 3-point range. ``We're not concerned about who's got what stats, and we all just share the ball,'' Lindner said. ``One person can have a big game one game, and another person can have a big game another game.'' Balance, depth and defense have fueled the Comets. ``Making the extra pass, sharing the ball, it makes us really tough to defend,'' Mastenbrook said. ``In this day and age, when there's a lot of chest-thumping going on, we don't do that. We just share the ball and do a lot of the fundamentally sound things.''
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