By Derrick Mahone
Ten games into the season, and Morrow has hit a five-game losing streak.
But coach Jay Livingston and his players are not quite ready to hit the panic button. The veteran coach couldn't quite put his finger on the problem as he explained the Mustangs' 64-61 loss to Heritage Friday in the first round of the Chuck Miller Classic at Henry County High, but insisted the team will fight through the adversity.
"We are not dismayed by all of this," Livingston said. "The season is still young and we have time. Come (region) tournament time, the Mustangs will be running."
Morrow, which dropped to 4-6 overall, had a chance to win Friday in the non-region match-up against Heritage, but seem to get in its own way. The Mustangs committed 23 turnovers, including four in the fourth quarter.
None were bigger than the one with 20 seconds left and the team down 62-58. Morrow was forced to foul in an attempt to get the ball back, and Heritage junior guard D.Q. Jackson sank a pair of free throws to push the lead to four points.
But there was no quit in the Mustangs as junior guard Jordan Faciane hit a 3-pointer to pull the team to within 64-61 with 12 seconds remaining.
Myles Cardenas missed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining as the Mustangs were given another opportunity. However, a pair of 3s missed as time ran out.
"The bottomline out here tonight was they made the shots when they needed to and we didn't," Livingston said. "We kept fighting hard, but sometimes a hard fight is not good enough, and that's the bottomline."
In addition to the turnovers, the Mustangs didn't help their cause by going 8 of 19 from the free throw line. They missed all four free throw attempts in the second half.
Faciane led the team with a game-high 26 points, including making six 3-pointers on the night. Sophomore center Dante Ottley was the only other Morrow player in double figures with 11 points.
Dezan Gibby led Heritage, which has won its last four games, with 19 points and Jackson finished with 10. In the crucial fourth quarter, Jackson and Gibby hit some big shots and free throws as Morrow tried to tie the game.
"We are struggling right now," Faciane said. "The wins are not coming yet. We got to get tougher."
The Mustangs return to action on Monday at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of Friday's late game between Dutchtown and host Henry County.
While Livingston is disappointed in the losses, he was quick to point out that all have come at the hands of some quality opponents. The team started the season winning its first three games, but loss to No. 2 Lovejoy, and has since dropped six of its last seven games.
"Those are not flim-flam teams we have lost to," Livingston said. "Those teams that we have lost to played real hard. We just have to get over than hump. We just have to find something inside of ourselves."
Chuck Miller Classic
When: Monday through Tuesday
Where: Henry County High
Admission: $8; tournament passes are available.
Schedule: Games start each day at 10 a.m. and run through 8:30 p.m.