Photo by Jerry Jackson
Morrow’s Kris Bell (32) goes up for a lay-up against Luella’s Doral Moore (42) and Temarcus Blanton (10) in the Mustangs’ region win on Friday.
MORROW — When it comes to Morrow and Luella this season, one close game deserves another.
The teams served up an encore performance of their Jan. 8 thriller — a four-point win for Luella — by treating fans to another drama filled, close contest.
But this time, it would be Morrow that got the victory as it utilized clutch buckets by Sahr Joe and Anthony Calloway down the stretch to stave off Luella 57-55 Friday night in a clash of Region 2-AAAAAA foes.
“I’m proud of this team and the way they fought,” Morrow coach Creswell Foy said. “This is just a big, big win for Morrow High, the kids, the community. It’s been nine years since we’ve put ourselves in this kind of position late in the season.”
What looked like an eventual convincing win for Morrow during the first three quarters turned into an action-packed nailbiter in the last three minutes of the game.
After Morrow’s Chris Datcher scored on a putback to put Morrow up 54-47 with 2:21 left in the game, Luella’s Charles Brown hit a jumper to cut the lead back to five points. His two missed free throws on Luella’s next trip down the court seemingly sealed the win for Morrow with 1:56 remaining.
That is until Foy got whistled for a technical foul as he contested a foul called against Temarcus Blanton. The infraction sent Luella point guard Nyrryk Evans to the free throw line where he drained two free throws.
Blanton then stepped to the line, draining just the second of two free throws to make the score 54-52, with Morrow still on top.
Coleman had a chance to extend the lead to four again but missed both free throws with 56.8 seconds remaining.
But as Luella advanced the ball down the court with the opportunity to either tie or take a lead, Morrow’s Cameron Davis came up with a steal and threw a long pass to Demarkus Loman downcourt who was subsequently fouled by a Luella player.
Loman hit just one of two free throws, and after Luella sharp shooter Jared Hendrick missed on a long three point try, Joe scored on an easy layup with 8.3 seconds remaining to put Morrow up 57-52.
Brown hit a three pointer for Luella with 0.3 left in the game to provide the final score.
Led by a timely performance by Brown, Luella went on a 12-3 run from the 4:04 mark in the fourth quarter to cut into what once was a 15 point lead by Morrow.
Defense was the story early as Morrow used a 2-3 zone to bottle up Luella’s slashing guards. Blanton was held to just 11 points on the night, and Luella went the entire first quarter without a field goal as the Lions were down 13-2 heading into the second quarter.
And despite his team holding a double-digit lead through most of the game, Foy said he was in no way surprised at the way Luella came back in the second half.
“Every good team makes a run,” Foy said. But can you withstand the run? That’s the question. And we did.”
Joe led the Mustangs (16-6, 6-4) with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Calloway chipped in with 11. Brown tied Blanton for a team high with his 11 points as Luella (14-8, 6-4) dropped its third straight game heading into the last week of the regular season.
With the win, Morrow kept pace with the log jam atop the Region 2-AAAAAA standings with Luella, Rockdale County, Newton and Lovejoy. Each team still has a chance of finishing the season on top of the region.