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A late-game altercation on the court marred a superb defensive effort by Proviso East as the Pirates cruised to a 68-43 win over Morton in a West Suburban Gold matchup in Maywood.
The incident came with 3:11 left in the fourth and Proviso East leading 63-38.
After a bucket by the Pirates’ Jevon Carter, there was some contact between Proviso East’s Sterling Brown and a Morton player. Players on the court from both teams started jawing with each other and most of the players on both benches ran onto the court.
No punches were thrown but after a several-minute conference with officials and coaches, Brown was given an intentional foul, Morton sophomore Weisner Perez was issued a technical foul and all the players that left the bench were sent to the locker room.
According to Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce’s understanding of the rules, any player that leaves the bench during an altercation is ejected and will miss the next game as well. The Pirates finished the game with seven players while Morton had six.
What complicated the situation further is that both teams had five players waiting to check in at the scorer’s table and they were all sent to the locker room. Coaches do not know who will be available for their next game and will have to wait for an IHSA ruling. The Mustangs play host to Schaumburg tomorrow while Proviso East takes on Willowbrook on Jan. 18.
“From my understanding it was just a little frustration,” Boyce said. “I was trying to get the starters out of the game. We just didn’t get them out fast enough.”
Morton coach Tony Martinucci knew what led to the altercation but was mum afterwards.
“I do know [what happened] but I’m going to keep quiet,” he said. “There was an incident and somebody did something but I’m going to leave it at that.”
As for the game itself, Proviso East (12-3) proved that if you can’t beat its press, you’re in deep trouble.
The Pirates shot just 13-for-36 in the first half but they took twice as many shots as the Mustangs, allowing them to get out to a 32-17 halftime lead. Morton never challenged in the second half.
“This week during practice we really just focused on defense,” said Proviso East’s Parrish McCullum, who had a team-high 16 points. “We did a good job of that today. That’s really how we got the ‘W’.”
“It was our defense; we really stepped up big on defense,” added Brown, who finished with 13 points.” That really helped take a load off us on the offensive end.”
The Mustangs held up to Proviso East’s press in the game’s opening minutes and actually held a 9-8 lead with 4:27 remaining in the first after back-to-back buckets by Jarvis Cannon (22 points).
But the Pirates responded with a 10-0 run fueled by steals and quick buckets. Proviso East led 18-12 at the end of the first, 32-17 at halftime and 48-29 after three.
“Their press is pretty tough,” Cannon said. “We just have to learn how to handle pressure. The objective is to get the ball and go.”
Also scoring in double digits for Proviso East were Carter (14 points), Branden Jenkins (13 points) and Paris Lee (10 points).