By Zack Huffman
The anguish on coach Jay Livingston's face was easily discernible through the darkness as he paced back and forth on the outdoor walkway that runs just outside of the boys' locker room at Morrow High School.
In the final game of the regular season with a winning record on the line, Livingston had witnessed his squad control three quarters of an exciting senior night game only to have victory ripped from his hands.
Morrow was sitting on a two-point lead with possession of the ball as thirty seconds remained in the game. A foul call gave Creekside possession and the Seminoles capitalized.
Now a tie, the Mustangs scrambled to take back the lead, but another foul call gave Creekside's Jarrett Smith two chances from the charity stripe to clinch the game.
Smith's shots were clean and the Seminoles triumphed 45-43.
Deandre Smith led Morrow's scoring effort with 16 points. Charles West contributed nine to the total. Between blocked shots and rebounds, Josh Davis easily led the defense before an injury cut into his production. Davis grabbed seven boards.
Setbacks came early for the Mustangs, when Tony Dukes and Davis each crashed to the floor following two separate jump blocks. Dukes hurt his wrist, while Davis was taken out of the second quarter with a twisted ankle.
Although Davis returned in the second half, he did so with a slight limp.
"The injuries forced us to have to focus on fighting through, but they didn't substantially change the outcome of the game," said Livingston.
The first quarter was easily Morrow's most dominant. The Mustangs opened the first eight minutes with a 15-8 lead.
Morrow lost the blocking and rebounding prowess of Davis midway through the second, but was able to maintain a 25-19 lead into the half.
With two hurt players on the court, the Mustangs held onto control of the game, slowing things down, scoring only seven points in the third quarter while holding Creekside to five.
The final curtain fell on the Mustangs in the fourth quarter. With a 21-11 performance, Creekside was able to pull out the two-point win.
The added morale boost of senior night was not enough to propel the Lady Mustangs past the Lady Seminoles Friday night, as Creekside came into Morrow High School and left with an important 52-42 region win in the final game of the regular season.
"We were never out of contention, but we just fell short," said coach Yolanda Jenkins.
Not only were Morrow and Creekside battling for the fourth seed in 4-AAAAA, but a win Friday night would earn some much-needed momentum going into the area tournament, which begins Monday at Westlake high school.
Morrow's top producer was Chatil Bradford, who performed a double-double and lead the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tori Hardy was a close second with 10 points and five rebounds.
Creekside appeared to be on track to a solid win with a 28-20 lead. Morrow was holding steady with two 10-point quarters, while the Lady Seminoles seemed to be heating up, going from 11 points in the first quarter to 17 in the second.
"We can match level of play with pretty everyone in the region," said Jenkins. "Our primary issue is inexperience and having a very young team."
Coming out of the half, the Lady Seminoles began to cool. Repeated missed shots and passes gave Morrow the opportunity to capitalize and close the gap early in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Lady Mustangs, Creekside regained its lead and held onto until the end.