||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Morton junior Jarvis Cannon puts up a shot against Larkin on Saturday in Elgin. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
By the intensity inside the Larkin gymnasium on Saturday night it was hard to tell a non-conference game on the first day of December was taking place.
With a large crowd all fired up the atmosphere was more conducive to a playoff game between arch rivals in the middle of March. Visiting Morton survived the pressure cooker with a thrilling 63-62 win over the host Royals.
It was the Mustangs’ third straight victory since opening the season with a loss to Fenwick.
Junior Greg Carter led the way for Morton (3-1) with a game-high 24 points, including four three-pointers. His driving layup with 50 seconds left to play gave the Mustangs the lead for good 63-61 after 18 lead changes and nine ties in the game.
Larkin (5-2) had a chance to pull it out at the buzzer, but Derek Streety’s desperation three-pointer from 30 feet out glanced off the front of the rim.
“Ever since the loss to Fenwick the kids have felt like they are under-ranked and have been trying to prove themselves,” said Morton coach Tony Martinucci. “We rose to the challenge tonight. This was a big win against a good team in a tough place to play. We were able to match their intensity and handle the pressure.”
The Royals trailed 57-53 early in the fourth quarter but scored eight unanswered points, including back-to-back steal and layups by Quantice Hunter and Quentin Ruff closing out the run, to pull ahead 61-57 with just over three minutes to play.
But like they did all night, the Mustangs answered right back.
A basket in the post by Waller Perez trimmed the deficit to 61-59. On its next possession Morton took advantage of two offensive rebounds to score on a reverse layup by Welsher Perez to tie the score at 61. Carter then finished the comeback.
“They were double teaming Waller inside,” said Carter. “That left me opened on the perimeter and I just made some shots. We just stuck together as a team and kept communicating.”
The Mustangs dominated the boards with a 44-27 rebounding advantage. Their 16 offensive rebounds led to a 15-5 edge in second-chance points.
Waller Perez led the way with 14 rebounds. Welsher Perez finished with a double-double as he posted 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Hunter had a game high 15 points for the Larkin. Streety added 12.
“It was an intense game,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. “We got a lot of what we wanted out of this game except the final result.
“I thought we lacked some confidence in crucial situations, but it was good to be in this kind of atmosphere in a tight game. So hopefully we’ll learn something from it.”
The defeat capped a rollercoaster week for the Royals, who suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday at Streamwood before bouncing back with an impressive win at St. Charles East on Thursday.