Mel Lindsey has a lot in common with his dad.
The younger Lindsey is a senior wing on the Holy Ghost Prep basketball team. His dad, same name, is a longtime basketball coach who led Lincoln to the Public League finals in each of the past three seasons, and is now leading the Girard College basketball team.
Like his dad, Lindsey loves basketball.
He loves playing defense, something his dad’s teams are known for.
And he knows the best way to improve is to put in work at the gym. That’s something he’s been doing since he arrived at high school.
“It’s funny, I just played basketball because I was tall, growing up, baseball was my main sport for a long time,” Lindsey said. “I started to focus on basketball more, and then not as much on baseball. As I got good at basketball, I stopped being good at baseball.
“Growing up, I played everything, I played a bunch of sports. I didn’t focus on basketball until high school. I think playing the other sports helped me. I got good hands because of baseball, and I feel like I can move my feet because I played other sports. Now I’m just working hard to become a better basketball player.”
Now, he’s doing his part to help the Firebirds, who are led by Tony Chapman, who has been one of the top coaches in the state since taking over the program 45 years ago.
Chapman asks a lot of Lindsey, and that works perfectly for him.
“My role is to do a lot,” Lindsey said. “On offense, we just run the offense and try to get the ball to the open guy. I try to pass the ball, get people open, facilitate, get the ball around, get people involved.
“On defense, I talk a lot on defense. Communication, I talk a lot because usually anyone in the back can see the whole court. So if I’m seeing everything, it’s important for me to let everyone know what’s to expect. I just try to communicate so everyone knows what’s going on, it helps our team defense.”
Defense is a huge part of Lindsey’s game. It’s also a huge part of what his father preaches as a coach. The younger Lindsey says he and his father see the game the same way, but says it’s not because it’s what his father demands.
“I think we just see the game the same way,” Lindsey said. “On defense, we play a lot of man, but in zones, I’m usually out on the wing or higher up in the post. I prefer man, I love being on the perimeter. Playing defense is a challenging thing. If you can guard the best player, it’s hard. I love that challenge.
“Our entire team plays defense. It’s something we all work on. Everyone has to work hard on defense, it’s all effort. That’s the best way to play defense, just work your hardest.
”My dad is a big defensive guy, he always says I don’t play defense. He puts a huge emphasis on it. I’ve always been free with offense, you have freedom when you’re on offense, but defense, just work hard and work together.”
With Lindsey doing his part at both ends, and the rest of the team doing its part, the Firebirds are 8-6 and have won seven of their last eight games after starting 1-5, including losses in their first four games.
It’s not unusual for Holy Ghost to improve as the season goes on, and the hope is this hot streak continues into the postseason.
The Firebirds will compete for a District One championship. They’ll also be fighting for a chance to get into the state tournament, which is always the ultimate goal for the team.
“This year, I would love to get a home game in districts because we’re not in a league, so we just have to keep winning,” Lindsey said. “Our goal is to finish in the top eight to get a home game. It would mean so much to me. Sophomore year we had a home district game, I didn’t impact that game the most, I would love to have a game on our floor, in front of our fans, that’s what we’re hoping for.”
Next year, Lindsey will continue his basketball career. While he wants to play college ball, he’s eyeing a year of prep school before he takes the next step.
“I’m undecided. I’m not sure, but I’m thinking about prep school,” Lindsey said. ”I’m not sure what I want to do. I could see myself coaching, I used to say no, but I feel like I can now.
“As I’ve gotten older, I try to teach people things as I play and share things. You want to see your teammates and those around you get better, so you want to try to help them anyway you can. I’ve started to do that more and more, and that’s a lot like coaching, so I could see myself coaching.
“Prep school I like it because I get to work on my body for another year, get to work on my game, get more time to become better as a person and a player. And get a lot of looks from colleges. And I’ll play on the wing more.”
But before he moves on, where he ends up, he’ll always love his time as a Firebird.
“Being a senior and looking back, I played three years of varsity basketball and learned so much,” said Lindsey, who attended St. Anselm grade school. “It’s fun playing there, big turnout at home games, we travel well, too. It’s nice. Last year we had a student section at our district playoff game and it was like an hour away.
“Holy Ghost is great. I think it helped that there were other guys from Philly. It’s a great school, academically, and I love playing basketball there. I’m really happy I went there.”