By Brian Paglia
Mundy's Mill had lost to Morrow's girls basketball team just over one month ago, but in that month the two region foes have progressed at a markedly different pace. The Lady Mustangs, a young team from the beginning of the season, continued to stumble as it matures. The Lady Tigers perfected its formula of pressure defense and transition offense.
Much of that same formula worked again for Mundy's Mill in its 74-60 victory at Morrow in a Region 4-AAAAA game Tuesday night. The Lady Tigers harassed the Lady Mustangs with their full-court press and stingy defense from their guards, which has been the common thread throughout Mundy's Mill 10-game winning streak that's catapulted it toward the top of the region standings.
"We started off a little shacky in the beginning of the season, but we really pulled it together," Mundy's Mill coach Lonnie Farmer said. "We've been consistent. That's the sign of greatness, is being consistently good. Not just good on one night or two nights, but consistently good on every night. And not just in the games. In practice we've been working very hard."
At times, the Lady Tigers (14-6, 9-4) have faired as star guard Tandrea High has faired. Her struggles tend to coincide with Mundy's Mill's struggles. No surprise then that High has averaged 23.1 points a game during the Lady Tigers' winning streak. She finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals against Morrow (9-10, 7-6), but it came mostly late in the game when victory appeared inevitable.
Farmer considers it a success when High and one other Lady Tigers player score in double figures. So he was impressed to see three other players join High in double figures, led by Bryonne Ballard's 20 points. Brianna McQueen contributed 16 points off the bench, and Kristian Scott added 12.
That is the kind of balance that eluded Mundy's Mill earlier in the season and exacerbated its inconsistency. Before a 22 point loss to No. 3 Westlake in mid-December, the Lady Tigers didn't lose a game by more than five points. Then Mundy's Mill won the Hooptacular Basketball Tournament at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, a feat Farmer thinks helped solidify his team's confidence in itself.
"We're just practicing hard," Ballard said. "It pays off in the game. We needed his big win for our morale."
Despite the Lady Tigers playing its patent defense, it only led 29-26 at halftime. Not until Morrow's Chatil Bradford picked up her fourth foul with 6:36 left in the third quarter did the pressure begin wilt Morrow's chance.
When Bradford left, the Lady Tigers led by seven. When she returned 7:41 later, they led by 15.
Bradford led the Lady Mustangs with 19 points and six rebounds, and Katamara Maxwell added 16 points and six rebounds.
"The girls have begun to believe in what we're doing," Farmer said. "They're beginning to believe in each other, and the results have been very positive."
· Morrow 84, Mundy's Mill 30 (Boys): As the second half of the season approached, Morrow's boys basketball coach Jay Livingston spoke of several region losses earlier in the season that his team intended to redeem.
The Mustangs redeemed themselves for a 59-57 loss to Mundy's Mill on Dec. 12 with a stunningly dominant win at home against the Tigers Tuesday night.
Twelve players scored for Morrow (10-10, 5-8 in Region 4-AAAAA), led by Tony Dukes' 22 points. Sean Stringfellow added 18, and Ty'Ron Davis added 11 points and five rebounds.
Jarvis Moses had nine points and seven rebounds for Mundy's Mill (5-15, 2-10).
The Mustangs jumped out to a 19-0 lead to begin the game, holding the Tigers without a basket for 5:04. By halftime, Morrow had pushed its lead to 53-21.
By the end of the game, the only drama left was whether the Mustangs would top 90 points for the first time since 2006.