Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas boys high school basketball, L.J. Cryer, Katy ISD

Cryer, Mavs good enough, go to 5-0 in 19-6A

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 1/21/20

It wasn’t pretty. A rare substandard showing by Morton Ranch against Taylor in a District 19-6A showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 21, produced disappointed looks and frustrated play.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas boys high school basketball, L.J. Cryer, Katy ISD

Cryer, Mavs good enough, go to 5-0 in 19-6A

Posted

It wasn’t pretty. A rare substandard showing by Morton Ranch against Taylor in a District 19-6A showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 21, produced disappointed looks and frustrated play.

It was sloppy, senior guard L.J. Cryer said. The Mavericks won by 19 points, 75-56. He wasn’t efficient, Cryer added. Cryer scored 44 points, on only 23 shot attempts, in his ninth game this season scoring 40 or more.

“I don’t keep track of any of that stuff,” said Cryer, who is averaging 34.8 points this season. “I just go out there and try and get the win. We’re trying to make a statement and win all the games by 20 or 30 points. I’m not happy with 5-10-point wins.”

Morton Ranch is 5-0 in 19-6A, winning those games by an average of 20.6 points as it appears to be easing its way to a second consecutive district championship. More impressively, the Mavericks are doing so without star center and TCU signee Eddie Lampkin, who suffered a knee injury in early December and is out at least a couple of more weeks.

“It says these guys refuse to quit,” coach Khris Turner said. “They fight. We get better every time we play.”

Morton Ranch got better against Taylor by playing harder down the stretch, locking down on defense and manufacturing easier buckets.

It didn’t start that way, however. The undersized and depleted Mustangs (2-3 in 19-6A) are a resilient team with a standout player of their own in junior guard Jake Arnold, one of the top 10 scorers in Houston who had a workmanlike game of 28 points and 12 rebounds. Arnold and Taylor’s zone defense gave Morton Ranch fits well into the third quarter.

Silly turnovers and poor defensive rebounding were the Mavericks’ primary woes.

“Yeah, we won by 19, but it was sloppy,” Cryer said. “And everything is about the way you do things. I would accept winning by 19 and playing well. This wasn’t good.”

Eventually, though, the Mavericks pulled away, thanks to Cryer finding substantial steam in the second half.

The Baylor signee scored 25 points after halftime, asserting himself aggressively and more often to put the game away. Cryer’s game consists of studying Damian Lillard’s poise and ballhandling, and Luka Doncic’s change-of-speed moves. It shows. When Cryer hits another gear and is determined to score, few can stop him, even when he’s not at his best.

“This game wasn’t really a good game for me,” Cryer said. “It sounds crazy, because (44) points. I wasn’t as efficient as I usually am, and I’ve just got to get back in the gym and get better.”

But Cryer got help when it mattered, and that’s what Turner seeks.

Junior guard Ethan Shiflett, playing out of position in the frontcourt since Lampkin’s injury, attacked, and attacked hard. The 6-foot-4 Shiflett finished with 14 points, his second consecutive game scoring in double figures, and added six rebounds.

“Ethan plays hard,” Cryer said. “He’s stepping up. We’ve asked him to do a lot more, and he’s taken that challenge.”

The Mavericks are desperate for consistent playmaking alongside Cryer and do-it-all guard Westley Sellers (10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals against Taylor). Shiflett is providing that.

“He’s finally acclimated to the pace of the game,” Turner said. “He brings rebounding and intensity. He brings everything that we’re trying to figure out, outside of Eddie.”

Shiflett is a transfer from Cypress Park High. Versatile enough to play any of the three frontcourt positions, he is more comfortable now as he has a better understanding of his assignment at every position.

“The biggest thing for me was working harder and keeping my emotions under control,” Shiflett said. “Over there, I was an emotional dude. It’s a big transition coming from there to here. Now I have to work hard, shut my mouth and keep fighting. Box out, get rebounds and get up the floor.”

News to Turner’s ears.

“We’re still patching things together and figuring out what works and what doesn’t,” Turner said. “We’ve been like that the entire season, figuring out things with guys in and out of the lineup. We’re always searching for that right fit.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment