By Brian Paglia
In 13 years of coaching boys basketball at Morrow, Jay Livingston has felt the height of success and the depths of futility. He's stayed up at night preparing for playoff opponents during Morrow's nine playoff appearanes during Livingston's tenure. But he's also stayed up at night trying to absorb 3-win seasons.
"Nothing but tears, headaches and Frosted Flakes," Livingston said. "I used to eat Frosted Flakes at night. I'd get home and I'd be just so disillusioned and so disappointed. I guess the sugar rush kind of got me through."
Morrow's current season has been stuck on the edge, wavering between its potential to make its 10th playoff appearance in 11 years and its nagging penchant for letting comfortable leads vanish. Livingston almost watched another double-digit lead disappear, but Morrow hung on for a 75-71 victory over last-place Chapel Hill Tuesday night, making Livingston the winningest boys basketball coach in Morrow history.
Richard Simmons held the old standard at Morrow with a 171-147 record from 1977-90. Tuesday night, Livingston evened his career record at 172-172, a run highlighted by the Mustangs' Final Four run in 2001-02 when it won a county-record 29 games and lost to eventual state champion Wheeler.
This season hasn't been as easy, nor was Tuesday night. Morrow (12-12, 7-10 in Region 4-AAAAA) held its biggest lead at 56-40 late in the third quarter, but Chapel Hill (3-18, 1-15) hit a flurry of 3s late in the fourth quarter.
Morgan Mathews (15 points) sank two 3s in a 10-second span to cut Morrow's lead to 71-69. But Tony Dukes made four free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
Dukes finished with a game-high 24 points and five steals, DeAndre Smith scored 22 points and Sean Stringfellow made his first four 3s, finishing with 16 points.
The Panthers got 18 points apiece from Brandon Barnes and Derrick Herbert.
After the game, Livingston spoke candidly about his disappointment in allowing over 70 points, a common refrain throughout Livingston's 13 years at Morrow.
"The complexion of the athlete changed," Livingston said. "The ideology changed. They went to offense, and everybody wanted to be an offensive star. We had made all of our progress just by fighting