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Randy Linsted

Randy Linsted

Staff Writer

Randy Linsted and his wife, Shaun, have a 6-foot-5 son, Justin, who is a promising sophomore for the Louisville (Oh.) High School basketball team.

Randy thinks Justin will turn into a fine player.

But he'll probably never score as proficiently as Linsted himself did when he started for Pymatuning Valley for three years (1973-1976).  Linsted scored 1,223 points for the Lakers, the sixth-most in Ashtabula County boys basketball history.

"He won't break my record in points," Linsted said of his son.

There's plenty of reason to believe he's right.  The year that Linsted ended his career as a senior (1976), he averaged 26.5 points per game, the second-highest mark in county history at the time to Williamsfield's Harvey Hunt's 27.1.

Considering the distance Linsted shot from, the total would have been much higher if Ohio high schools had the benefit of the three-point arc at the time.

"Oh, I would have scored 2,000 [points]," he said of the line.  "Almost every shot I made was from outside where that line is now."

Maybe, maybe not.  Teams might have guarded the 6-foot-2 guard more closely if every shot he took was a three-point bonanza.

Linsted will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation's Hall of Fame on Sunday at Conneaut's Human Resources Center.

Former Pymatuning Valley coach Bob Hitchcock coached Linsted as a freshman and, according to Linsted, as a sophomore, but had been replaced by the time the latter did most of his scoring.

"There were some misunderstandings with the board of education and I wasn't able to coach him after that," Hitchcock said.  "But I got to see him play.

"He was an outstanding scorer with great range.  He was also good with the ball off the dribble.  He had good foot speed.  He had a lot of scoring talents, could put the ball in the basket.

"He was an intelligent player.  I would've loved to have coached him.  Players like that make you a smart coach."

"I'd like to credit Bob Hitchcock," Linsted said.  "I had three coaches in three years (Hitchcock was followed by Dave Roberts and Rich Hackett).  Bob Hitchcock gave me a chance to start.

"Hitch had been around the game and played the game.  Dave Roberts was a young guy out of college.  Hackett was fresh from playing college ball.  It might have been his first teaching job."

Linsted didn't get to play varsity as a freshman, since at that time the Lakers started players like 6-9 Rex Burlingham and 6-7 Carl McIlwain, seniors at the time.  After that season, though, he became PV's go-to guy on teams that also featured Todd Baker (who went to North Carolina State on a football scholarship), Paul Warner, Mike Wilson and Alan Namey.

"We lost a lot my sophomore year, but I averaged 17 points a game," he said.  "My senior year, we went 15-4 and beat Paul Warfield's nephew.  We beat Jefferson's ass, that's all that mattered."

PV had no great celebration when he passed 1,000 points, an achievement he attributed to the work he put in on his family's driveway.

"I shot a lot," he said.  "I'd shovel the driveway off and play.  It's not like there was a lot to do in Andover.  We played a lot of basketball."

In Linsted's best game, the Lakers defeated Perry, 86-65, with Linsted scoring 41 points, connecting on 18 of 21 field-goal attempts and five of six free throws.

After his senior season, he was selected as the Grand River Conference and Star Beacon Ashtabula Player of the Year and was third-team All-Ohio on both the Associated Press and United Press International teams, in addition to being first-team all-district and a Cleveland Press Star Dream Team member.

He decided to attend West Liberty (W.  Va.) and went out for the basketball team.  Though he made the squad, he decided not to play.

"I was sick of it," he said.  "I went out for the golf team and played four years of golf.  We didn't do anything special, but we played courses all over the country for nothing.  It was a lot of fun."

Linsted had played on the PV golf team in high school and held the scoring record at Andover Golf Course for a while.

He graduated from West Liberty with a degree in business management and worked for Cincinnati Insurance in Louisville.  He met his wife (Shaun) at West Liberty.

"I could have gone to Youngstown State or Kent, but I chose to go to West Liberty instead," he said.  "I loved it there.  It was a small school, but I loved it."

Linsted changed jobs recently and right now runs Akron Auto Auction, taking that over from his father, selling cars to dealers.  It's a big business

"We sell 1,000 cars on Tuesdays and another 300-400 on Thursdays," he said.  "My dad was one of the original owners, but he decided to get out of it."

He doesn't dwell on his high school career.

"I went there and played and moved on.  I haven't been back to my high school.  My parents live in Ashtabula now.  It was a phase in my life."

Randy and Shaun have three children, all of them athletes.  Abby, 21, has a full volleyball scholarship at Edinboro University and will graduate in May.  Kaitlan, 19, is a sophomore at Ohio State, who played high school volleyball and basketball.  As mentioned, Justin plays basketball for Louisville.

"He liked it when he grew so much," Linsted said.  "He's going to be fine.  I coached down here for four years, freshmen and as an assistant JV coach.  But it took up too much time.  I had to leave my job for afternoon practice.  I don't know how I did it."

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