By Doug Gorman
When the Morrow Mustangs basketball team looks back at Friday night's Region 4-AAAAA tournament contest at Lovejoy against Creekside, they might just refer to it as the one that got away.
With good reason.
Morrow built a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and then used a combination of solid defense and timely offensive firepower in the second period to jump out to a lead that reached 17 points at one stretch.
So much for big leads.
Creekside kept fighting and ended up living to play another day with the 57-53 win.
The Mustangs season ended with a 16-9 overall record.
Creekside punched its tickets to the second round when Jyles Smith connected on two pressure free throws to close out the scoring with just seconds remaining in the contest.
Until then, it was anybody's game.
Morrow had Creekside against the ropes in the second quarter and appeared ready to cruise into the second round.
The Mustangs used two straight 3-point shots by Mageeye Biggs and Kadarius Donaldson to build its largest lead of the game at 30-13 early in the second quarter.
Creekside didn't score its first basket of the second quarter until the 2:04 mark, but hit five of six from the free throw line to keep the game close.
Despite leading by 17 at one stretch of the second quarter, Morrow couldn't shake the Indians, who only trailed 31-22 at the break after closing out the period with a 9-1 run.
"I think the major thing that took place for us was we kind of lost focus a little bit offensively," Morrow coach Jay Livingston said. "We knew they were going to make a run like all teams do, and we were able to deal with it, but in the end the ball just didn't bounce our way."
Creekside began to get hot on the offensive end in the third quarter. The Seminoles outscored Morrow 22-11 when they came out of the locker room in the second half and took a 44-43 lead heading into the last quarter.
The Seminoles took advantage of two 3-point shots in the period. Joshua Holsey connected on a trey with 3:01 remaining to tie the game at 36-36.
From there it was a battle to see who could seize the momentum.
A dunk by Charles West and a basket by Jordan Faciane twice pushed Morrow into a one-point lead late in third quarter.
Faciane's basket gave the Mustangs their last lead of the third quarter at 43-42.
The Seminoles added the final points of the third quarter when Travious Relaford added two free throws to give his team the 44-43 lead.
Creekside pushed its lead to four points late in the fourth quarter, but could never totally shake the Mustangs.
Biggs hit his third 3-point shot of the game midway through the final period to tie the game at 48 for Morrow.
With just second remaining the the contest, West also added another 3-pointer to cut the gap to 54-53, but that was as close as Morrow could get.
"We are young and we are going to be fine," Livingston said about his team's future.
West finished the game with 11 points and Faciane tossed in 11. Relaford led Creekside with 13. Tareek Roach tossed in 12.
Chapel Hill 59, Morrow 31: The Morrow Lady Mustangs fell behind 20-9 at the end of the first quarter and found itself having to play catch up the rest of the way in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament opener.
In the end the Lady Pathers were simply to much for the Lady Mustangs.
After Morrow built a 6-2 lead minutes into the contest, Chapel Hill bounced back when Quatilya Earls connected on the first of her two 3-point shots in the quarter to cut the gap to 6-5.
Chapel Hill scored again on their next trip down the floor as Amaria Brown scored from inside the paint for a 7-6 lead. The Lady Panthers went on 13-3 run to close out the quarter.
In the second period, Morrow only hit shots from the field, including Neon Powell's 3-point shot as Chapel Hill pushe their lead to 34-15 at the break.
Morrow's hopes for a comeback ened when it was outscored 14-4 in the third quarter.
Chapel Hill's Oneisha Smith led all scores with 19 points. Brittney Askew paced Morrow with 9 points.
The Lady Mustangs ended their season withj a 12-13 record.