Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy junior DeAngelo Anthony (left) and senior Justin Tuoyo listen for their names to be called during the player introduction before the state of the Wildcats’ game against Morrow on Friday.
Tough losses have a way of setting the tone for an entire season.
Lovejoy's loss to North Clayton Tuesday night might be what the Wildcats need to drive them to a strong finish.
Morrow learned just how determined the sixth-ranked Wildcats are in a 58-54 loss on Friday.
Opening the game on a 12-4 run thanks to two quick baskets by Virginia Commonwealth University signee Justin Tuoyo and a pair of 3-pointers by guard DeAngelo Anthony.
That was the the kind of play Lovejoy coach Rick Francis wanted to see from his team.
“I want to see my guys play with some consistency,” he said. “All of the region games are important. We have to get up for all of them, not just North Clayton.”
The Wildcats were sending an early message that defense would be the focus when they held the Mustangs to six first-quarter points.
The second quarter started with Morrow scoring on the inside while Tuoyo was on the bench.
Morrow took advantage as it cut Lovejoy’s lead to 20-16 early in the second quarter.
Francis quickly put the 6-foot-9 Tuoyo back in. He immediately made his presence felt, hitting a 3-pointer to stop the Mustangs’ run.
The second half opened with a drive by Morrow guard Anthony Calloway before back-to-back Wildcat baskets pushed it to back to a seven-point advantage at 30-23.
An Anthony baseline jumper followed by two Tuoyo baskets — one on a tip in and the other a ferocious dunk — made the score 38-26.
The Mustangs managed a free throw before the quarter ended.
The fourth quarter started with another Anthony 3-pointer that was countered by a three by Mustangs senior guard Jordan Faciane.
The teams traded turnovers and baskets early in the final stanza before the Mustangs started to intentionally send the Wildcats to the free-throw line in order to stop the clock. Two free throws from Tuoyo and another two from reserve Alejandro Bennifield kept the lead in double figures.
Morrow continued to keep things interesting with two more 3-pointers by Faciane in between some more free throws by the Wildcats.
Faciane, a Campbell University signee, hit another 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish with a game-high 19 points. Calloway finished with 11.
Anthony had 15 points to lead the Widcats, while Tuoyo and guard Widley Guerrier both finished with 13.