Linfield Christian's Darryl Morris reaches up for the ball during Monday night's game versus Woodcrest Christian.
TEMECULA The Linfield Christian boys basketball team is already way past gunning for a league title or an undefeated league season.
Perhaps that is the reason, then, that the Lions found themselves sleepwalking against Woodcrest Christian in the third quarter Monday night, playing with the energy of a rolling blackout.
“They were down. Things didn’t go their way and they were looking for a reason why they weren’t going their way,” Lions coach Shawn Stroud said.
So Stroud called a timeout, woke up his team, and the rest was business as usual. Using a 21-2 second-half run, the Lions downed visiting Woodcrest Christian, 53-40, to clinch a share of the Ambassador League championship.
For much of Monday’s game, Woodcrest was successful in slowing the pace to a crawl, and the Royals (8-14, 4-7) took a 32-30 lead with 2:26 left as Linfield struggled both with its shooting and its press defense.
Stroud called a timeout and firmly reminded his team to play its game.
“We needed to be mentally tough,” said senior guard Darryl Morris, who scored a game-high 19 points. “We knew we were a better team than that.”
Immediately, the Lions picked up the pace. Morris hit a 3-pointer and convereted a three-point play. Daniel Morris hit a 3 and hit two free throws after Darryl was fouled hard going to the basket.
And by the time Torin Webb scored on a put-back with one second left in the third quarter, Linfield led 45-34.
“We went from stalemate to up 10 in, like, two minutes,” Stroud said.
Darryl Morris shot 7 of 13 from the field and didn’t miss a shot in the second half, although he missed a fair amount of time after being fouled hard to the floor. He sprained his right wrist and had it heavily wrapped afterward.
Daniel Morris scored 11 points and sophomore guard Torin Webb fought his way through a tough shooting night and foul trouble to score 10. Johnson finished with 11 rebounds.
Ranked No. 11 in Division V AA, the Lions have three more league games and higher goals past that. To get there, they’ll have to keep their focus through nights like Monday.
“It’s really easy (to lose focus), especially when we’re on an 11-game winning streak,” Darryl Morris said. “Our confidence is high, but we just can’t roll over teams. Any team can come out and compete with us if we don’t play the way we’re capable of.”