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Dunks and depth define Morse

01/09/2015, 11:00pm PST
By Kirk Kenney

No. 9 Tigers leave Mira Mesa panting in fourth quarter

Morse’s Brandon McCoy, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, had 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.

If the remaining games in the Eastern League are anything like Friday night’s Mira Mesa-Morse contest, then school officials should keep fire hoses and sand buckets at the ready.

The teams played up-tempo throughout the game before Mira Mesa tired toward the end, allowing the host Tigers to come away with a 67-55 win in the league opener for both teams.

“Morse and Mira Mesa on a Friday night, it’s going to be a barn burner,” said Morse basketball coach Bobby Sumler. “It’s always a grudge match.”

Morse 6-foot-9 sophomore center Brandon McCoy was a presence in the middle, finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots. McCoy had plenty of support around him. Teammate D.J. Sylvester had a game-high 24 points for the No. 9-ranked Tigers (12-3, 1-0).

What Mira Mesa (10-6, 0-1) lacked in size — the Marauders’ tallest starter stood six inches shorter than McCoy — it made up for in hustle and moxie.

Mira Mesa’s James Ottey and Kris Johnson had no reservations about taking the ball to the basket against McCoy. Ottey led Mira Mesa with 19 points and Johnson added 17.

They helped Mira Mesa stay close. The Marauders trailed only 31-28 after two periods.

“We were slacking off on defense,” said junior guard Justin Davis, who had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers. “Coach got on us about that at the half. We started playing better defense and that’s what made the difference.”

Mira Mesa was within five points at 55-50 with 4:50 remaining in the game. It came on a play in which McCoy picked up his fourth foul. He kept his poise and his teammates did the rest.

“We’re pretty deep in the rotation this year,” said Sumler. “The farther along the game goes, when you have people you can bring in to give your starters a breather, that helps you down the stretch. I noticed they weren’t hitting as many shots late in the game as they were early. I think that’s attributable to our depth.”

Mira Mesa coach Paul Tessaro would have to agree.

“When you get tired you make mistakes, and we got tired,” said Tessaro. “We tried to play with Morse up and down (the court). We did it for about 26 or 27 minutes. After that, our fatigue set in.”

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