By Doug Gorman
Basketball coaches love to talk about the importance of playing good defense.
It's one element of the game a team needs when its offense is having an off night.
Good defense was certainly the key for the Morrow Lady Mustangs' in their 51-31 win against Henry County Saturday night in a Region 2-AAAAA contest.
The win came 24 hours after the Lady Mustangs lost in another key region game Friday against Houston County.
Leading just 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, Morrow pulled out to a 22-10 lead at the break.
The Lady Mustangs rattled the Ladyhawks into 16 first half turnovers, converting many of Henry County's mistakes into fast-break baskets.
"We had talked about the importance of playing good defense," said head coach Yolanda Jenkins. "Tonight we stepped it up."
Morrow nearly shutout the Ladyhawks in the second quarter. After scoring a basket late in the first quarter to cut into Morrow's lead at 12-8, Henry County went more than nine minutes before its next score.
With 20 seconds remaining before the break, Yetta Bailey hit a shot for Henry County to break the drought.
Morrow's lead, however, grew to double digits paced by the play of Jasmine Parker, who hit two baskets late in the quarter to pace a 10-0 run and Morrow lead 22-10 at the break.
Keisha Varner opened the second half with a 3-point shot for Henry County trimming the lead to nine points, but it was the last time Morrow's lead was reduced to single digits.
Three-point shots by Parker and Astari Johnson helped the margin quickly climb to an insurmountable lead during the third period.
At the start of the fourth period, Morrow's lead was 39-21.
Sheryl Swen and Parker each had 11 points to lead the Lady Mustangs. Johnson tossed in 10.
Henry County's Varner led all scorers with 16.
A three-point play by Varner cut the gap to 12 points in the final period, but that was as close as Henry County could get to rally against the Lady Mustangs.
Henry County 75, Morrow 60: What a difference a year makes.
The last time the Henry County Warhawks played at Morrow High School, the Mustangs scored more than 100 points and blew their guest out of the gym.
Saturday night Henry County turned the tables, picking up a solid 75-60 Region 2-AAAAA victory.
The win against Morrow completed a solid weekend for the Warhawks, which also beat state-ranked Jonesboro on Friday night.
After several momentum changes in the first half, the tide changed for Henry County in the third quarter when Morrow attempted to squelch Carvelle Taylor's offensive punch with a box-and-one defense.
That turned out to be a big mistake for the Mustangs.
Tailing 35-33 at the opening of the second half, Henry County caught fire in the third quarter with an 11-0 run
Two 3-pointers by Taylor and one by Emmanuel Wimbush in a span of about a minute pushed the Warhawks' lead to 50-41.
The Warhawks led by as many as 11 late in the third quarter, before Morrow pushed it back to 9 to close out the period.
Morrow failed in its attempt to slow down Taylor, who turned in a 27-point effort to lead all scorers. Wimbush scored 16 and with tough inside play Cornelius Edwards tossed in 11. Omar Stephens scored 21 for Morrow.
Mt de Sales 40, ELCA 39 (boys): Clay Reeves led the way for Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Saturday, but it wasn't enough for the Chargers to beat one of the top teams in GISA.
Reeves finished the game with 17 points.
Mt. de Sales fell to 11-2 and ELCA 6-6.