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Morse finds comfort zone in upset of Dons

02/26/2014, 11:08pm PST
By Craig Malveaux

Zone defense stymied both teams early in the game

Morse's Kenny McDonald (shown in a game earlier this season) scored 13 points to help the Tigers upset Cathedral Catholic on Wednesday night.

Zone defense stymied both Cathedral Catholic and Morse.

The Dons couldn’t drain any perimeter shots. The Tigers couldn’t convert any inside drives.

“Both teams sort of played like boxers, trying to feel each other out because we hadn’t played each other this season,” Morse coach Robert Sumler said.

Then, the teams switched game plans in the second half. Cathedral Catholic attacked inside. Morse attempted perimeter shots.

One heated up. The other didn’t.

Behind stifling defense and a third-quarter run, Morse upset Cathedral Catholic in the first round of the San Diego Section Division I playoffs, routing the No. 5 Dons 57-39 at home Wednesday night.

The No. 12 Tigers (15-12) advanced to a quarterfinal game against No. 4 seed Poway (18-11) on Saturday.

“Offensive rebounds made the difference for us,” Sumler said. “Coming out of the first half, we talked about being more aggressive on the boards since our shots weren’t falling.”

Senior guard Jah’mere Mitchell scored a game-high 15 points for the Tigers, who led 20-19 at halftime. Kenny McDonald chipped in 13 points on four 3-pointers.

“(Kenny) was overdue,” Sumler said. “He took it to the basket early, but he was getting hung in the air and couldn’t really finish. I told him to stick with it because we’re going to win with you or lose with you.”

McDonald heeded the message. And he ended the Tigers’ shooting slump in the third quarter, drilling three consecutive 3-pointers to extend the one-point cushion to eight.

The lead swelled to 17 as the Dons converted only two field goals in a 5-minute span and finished with 11 points in the final period.

“Couldn’t make any outside shots,” Cathedral Catholic coach Will Cunningham said.

“We couldn’t shoot. I maybe counted two 3-pointers tonight. We had plenty of opportunities on the outside that we just couldn’t convert. You pair that with turnovers, and it makes it awfully difficult to win a basketball game. It’s that simple.”

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