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Tigers Sports

Wades No. 11 Retired By Linden By JR Parachini

Posted Friday, December 26, 2008 by By JR Parachini For sidelinechatter.com

LINDEN - On the 36th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and on the day the Yankees signed free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, another pretty special, more local sports moment took place at Linden High School.

For the first time in Linden High School sports, a uniform number was officially retired.

Now when you walk into the gymnasium at Linden High, you will see Desmond Wade's No. 11 honored.

In a brief ceremony before Linden's Tuesday afternoon game against Watchung Conference rival Irvington, Linden Athletic Director Stephen Yesinko spoke to a crowd of 500 about the Wade's accomplishments on the hardcourt the past four seasons.

He then introduced Wade to the crowd as the now starting point guard at the University of Houston was presented with one of his Linden No. 11 uniform jerseys in a glass frame.

Then the unveiling of the No. 11 took place. At the left of the bigger of the two scoreboards inside the gymnasium is a display that reads Desmond (on top), Wade (below), 11 (below Wade) and 2004-2008 (below 11).

Desmond Wade, 11, 2004-2008.

Wade, with his family in attendance, was truly honored by such a significant tribute. There have been many other great basketball players at Linden and other outstanding athletes of other sports teams.

He is right at the top of the list of special student-athletes to have graced the hallways of Linden High.

"This means a lot to me," Wade said moments after the tribute. "I want to thank God, first. I want to thank my family, my parents, mom and dad. I want to thank my coaches, coach (Phil) Colicchio and coach (Marty) Luc.

"I want to thank my teammates because they were everything. Without them I wouldn't have been able to do what I did. If they didn't play defense we wouldn't have won all of these championships.

"Players like Darrell Lampley, L.J. McGhee, Muhammad Wilkerson, Charles Miller - those types of players I want to thank. Also George Bease and Jerry Jones, because without them I don't think we would have won all of these championships."

Wade helped Linden to a 104-20 (.839) record in four seasons that included four conference titles, two state crowns and one very special county championship. When Linden played St. Patrick's in the 2007 Union County Tournament title contest, the Celtics were No. 1 in the country.

The play of Wade and Lampley sparked Linden to a more than convincing 63-51 victory in a game in which the Tigers led all the way from start to finish.

St. Patrick's ended up finishing No. 2 in the country that season by The USA Today. The Celtics also finished No. 2 in Union County because of the way Linden outperformed them that day at the Dunn Sport Center in Elizabeth.

"I know I get all the glory, but the players and the coaches get part of it too," said Wade, who has already helped Houston get off to a 7-1 record that includes a seven-game winning streak after the Cougars opened with a two-point loss to Georgia Southern.

"I worked hard all throughout high school and I just want to thank everybody," Wade said.

Wade cracked the starting lineup at Linden midway through his freshman season. That year included Linden's first-ever win over St. Anthony, which was No. 1 in the state at the time and had not lost to an in-state opponent in some time.

As far as obtaining jersey No. 11, this is how Wade explains how he got the number: "My cousin Gregory Parker (also a football and basketball standout at Linden like Wade was) used to wear No. 11. He was the starting point guard before I came here.

"I just wanted to take after him. Once he started wearing it I just wanted to wear it. Ever since that, I just wore it all along.

"I wore it (No. 11) through middle school and when I came here it was available and I grabbed it."

If you go on the University of Houston athletics website, you will see a picture of Wade wearing No. 3 this year.

"When I got to college, I wanted to wear No. 11 too, but a senior had it so I switched to No. 3," Wade said. "I've been playing pretty well with No. 3, so I think I'm going to stick with it."

Through the team's first eight games of which he has started seven, Wade (5-9, 155) is fifth in the team in scoring with an 8.5-point average and leads the Cougars in assists with 50.

Wade is one of three New Jersey residents playing for head coach Tom Penders, the others being junior forward Qa'rraan Calhoun (6-8) of Hazlet and Raritan High and sophomore guard Horace McGloster (6-7) of Newark and Shabazz High.

Wade was joined by former teammates Tuesday at Linden as they watched this year's Tiger squad compete against Irvington.

"Hanging out with my teammates every day is something I'll always remember," Wade said. "My freshmman year I was the youngest - we had Michael Henderson and L.J. McGhee - and when we lost in the states that hurt."

Linden was defeated by Bridgewater-Raritan in the 2005 North 2, Group 4 final at Piscataway.

"Ever since that loss I just wanted to win," Wade said.

Linden bounced back to defeat Plainfield in the 2006 N2, G4 final and Elizabeth in the 2007 title game, both at the Dunn Center.

"Just hanging out and being around my teammates and the coaches, that's what I will remember," Wade said. "Going on road trips and having fun was great."

When Wade thinks back to all of the special wins he was a part of at Linden - including a victory over Tournament of Champions top seed Bloomfield Tech in the 2006 TOC semifinals - he doesn't hesitate to talk about Linden's UCT final win over St. Pat's two years ago.

"Winning the county, that was a big game," Wade said. "They were the No. 1 team in the country and I had never beaten them.

"Winning the county championship was just as good as winning the states. That was kind of special because we really played hard that game.

"We came out focus and intense and we knew we had to get it done. Everybody stepped up and came together and that's how we won the championship."

After Wade helped Linden win its second Group 4 state championship in 2006 during his sophomore season, he felt that the Tigers had established themselves as a legitimate threat to knock off any team in the state.

"Going into my junior year, it was a big year because we had just lost the TOC (final)," Wade said. "We felt like we could go back and win it."

Linden repeated as Group 4 state champions in 2007 and then suffered a heart-breaking loss to Bloomfield Tech in the semifinals when RJ Hall made a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to send the Spartans to the title game against a St. Patrick's team that Linden dominated in the county final just a couple of weeks earlier.

"We got a tough break with that shot going in," Wade said. "That was a tough loss, one of the worst I've ever had.

"We just felt like we could go on that season and beat anybody with the team we had. Me, Darrell, George, Jerry, Ahmad Harris, Muhammad - we just felt like we could go in and beat anybody, no matter who it was."

This is how Wade initially looked upon his ability as a basketball player moving on to the next level: "I felt like I could come into any program and give them a spark, even if I was coming in off the bench," Wade said. "I'm the type of player where I'm going to play hard regardless.

"I knew I could come in and play hard for any coach - pass the ball, assists, do whatever it takes to win.

"Right now I'm at the point where I'm starting right now and that's a good thing. We're 7-1, so I just want to keep going and, hopefully, make the (NCAA) Tournament."

Going from Linden, N.J. to Houston, Tex. takes some getting used to.

"When I first got there it was a big adjustment," Wade said. "It was different being away and then with these new coaches, I was like, wow.

"Then after awhile I started getting used to it. The first couple of months have been good. We've been playing hard and winning and should be 8-0. We should have beaten Georgia Southern.

"It's different. I thought it would be a lot slower, but it's not because it's kind of city like because I'm in Houston. I feel like I became a stronger person being away from home.

"I kind of like it out there. It's a nice community, a nice city, a nice school campus, everything is good."

Wade is still a big fan of Linden basketball and was a supporter in person Tuesday, getting a look at this year's team for the first time.

"I just hope they win," Wade said. "I know it's going to be tough on them, but they have guys on that team that played on the team last year. They should be good."

For four years Wade was the kind of player that led by example. If players saw him doing the extra things on the court that it took to win, they felt they should be giving just as much effort.

"My will, I refused to lose," Wade said. "Every day I went out on the court and just wanted to win. Losing was not an option.

"I just wanted to go out there - dive on the floor if I had to - just do anything that's goiong to win the game.

"I always wanted to leave it all out on the floor."

So why isn't this kind of player performing closer to home, say at a Big East or Atlantic 10 school.

"I always think about that," Wade said. "I always wanted to play in the Big East and stay on the East Coast, but playing at Houston is the opportunity that I got.

"I think a couple of coaches passed up on me, but in the long run they are going to see that they missed a good player.

"I'm happy where I'm at in Houston. I love the coaches and everything, so everything is good."

However, the same thing can not be said of this year's Linden squad.

IRVINGTON TOPS LINDEN FOR 2-0 START, WHILE TIGERS ARE OFF TO RARE 0-2 BEGINNING

Irvington almost gave up a double digit lead on several occasions, but held on and then pulled away to a 59-49 triumph over Linden Tuesday afternoon at Linden.

Irvington, which opened with a 70-32 win over Kearny Christian Academy at University High in Newark Saturday, improved to 2-0.

Linden, which opened with a 44-39 loss to Science Park at Union Saturday night, fell to 0-2.

Irvington defeated Linden for the first time - snapping a three-game losing streak against the Tigers - since posting a 56-46 win at home on Jan. 16, 2007. Linden was 9-0 at the time of that game.

Linden went on to beat Irvington 71-50 at home in the 2007 North 2, Group 4 semifinals and last year beat the Blue Knights twice in two tries in regular season play - first by a 74-57 score at home on Dec. 18, 2007 and second by a 53-50 decision at Irvington on Jan. 12, 2008.

Exactly six players scored for each team, with four Irvington players reaching double-digits, including senior guard Kenyon Perry with 15, senior guard Al-Musal Carter with 13, senior forward Akeem Terrell with 12 and senior forward Aaron Yarbough with 11.

Terrell, a big body, scored all of his points in the second half and 10 of his 12 in the fourth quarter, once going by Linden 6-10 senior forward David Bruce to the basket for a layup.

Bruce paced all scorers with 25 points, but scored only five in the fourth quarter, with his last two points coming after the game was out of reach.

Linden fought its way back into the game on several occasions after a sloppy first quarter put the Tigers behind by a 19-9 count.

Linden's first of three 7-0 runs pulled it to within 22-16 midway through the second quarter. Its second 7-0 run - early in the third quarter - pulled it to within one at 27-26, which was the closest it got to the lead in the second half.

Irvington answered that run with a 10-0 run of its own that was concluded with a three-point bsket by Perry, one of three he made.

Linden came back again to close the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run to pull to within 40-35 as senior forward Andrae Pearson took a pass from sophomore guard Daniel Thompson and converted a layup that was good at the buzzer for his only points of the game.

Thompson stole a pass by Irvington and fed Pearson just in time. Thompson was in Linden's starting lineup, along with senior forward Romell Bateman, Bruce, senior forward Tevin Calhoun and sophomore guard Elijah Hodge.

Linden extended that run to seven points for its third and final 7-0 run of the game early in the fourth quarter when Bruce scored off an assist from Calhoun to make the score 40-37. That was the closest Linden would get to Irvington in the final eight minutes.

After Linden pulled to within 44-40 on a Bruce free throw with 5:10 left, Terrell answered with back-to-back baskets for a 48-40 Irvington lead. The Blue Knights led by as many as six points the rest of the way.

IRVINGTON (2-0) 19 6 15 19 - 59

LINDEN (0-2) 9 10 16 14 - 49

IRVINGTON: Al-Musal Carter 3-2-1-13, Yoshane Scott 2-0-2-6, Aaron Yarbough 4-0-3-11, Kenyon Perry 3-3-0-15, Akeem Terrell 5-0-2-12, Kiwan Muhammad 1-0-0-2. Totals: 18-5-8-59.

LINDEN : Romell Bateman 2-0-0-4, David Bruce 10-0-5-25, Tevin Calhoun 3-0-0-6, Walter Durham 0-0-3-3, Elijah Hodge 3-1-0-9, Andrae Pearson 1-0-0-2. Totals: 19-1-9-49.

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