In the first meeting between the two teams in December, Linfield Christian jumped to a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes and cruised to a 24-point victory. It was much closer during the rematch Thursday night at Loma Linda Academy, but the result ended the same, as the Lions went home with a 54-42 win.
LLA jumped off to a quick 5-0 lead on a basket by Dante Thomson and a three-pointer by Joe Rees. Then, Thomson and Rees each hit another three. Justin Im and Kieth Stewart each grabbed three rebounds. However, Linfield eventually closed the gap and the quarter ended in a 13-13 tie.
Alex Bush did a great job defensively for the Lions in the second quarter, with several steals and was rewarded with breakaways for seven points total. Dakota Jordan had four points to lead LLA. Thomson ended up on the bench for a good deal of the quarter with two fouls. The visiting Lions held a 25-19 lead at the half.
Chris Lawrence had six points and two blocks for LLA in the third period, but Linfield pulled away to a nine-point lead behind Matt Wildon's seven points. Thomson again was hampered by picking up his third foul early in the quarter.
Johnathan McKeever hit three free throws in a row after being fouled while taking a shot from behind the arc. Lawrence continued to get points in the post, but the Lions pulled away for the victory. Linfield had an excellent defensive game plan against LLA that resulted in multiple transitional baskets and trips to the free throw line.
Chris Lawrence led LLA with 14 points and added two blocks. Although Thomson saw only limited playing time because of fouls, he made his presence known with five points, four assists and a block. Im ended the game with seven points and four boards. Rees had six points and four rebounds.
LLA falls to 8-8, 4-4 and will be battling ACA for fourth place in the Ambassador League. Linfield Christian improves to 17-2, 6-2 and should be in sole possession of third place behind Aquinas and Ontario Christian which were both 6-1 after Aquinas defeated Ontario last Tuesday. LLA next hosts Western Christian on Jan. 24.
In the girls game, Loma Linda Academy limited the Lions to only six points in the first half en route to an easy 56-20 victory.