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

FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!

With star center Lampkin out, Mavs’ Cryer scoring any, all ways

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 1/7/20

Morton Ranch senior center and TCU signee Eddie Lampkin is sidelined the next six weeks or so. Having not played since Dec. 10 in a win against Eisenhower, Lampkin, averaging 10.5 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, is dealing with a knee issue.

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

FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!

With star center Lampkin out, Mavs’ Cryer scoring any, all ways

Posted

Morton Ranch senior center and TCU signee Eddie Lampkin is sidelined the next six weeks or so. Having not played since Dec. 10 in a win against Eisenhower, Lampkin, averaging 10.5 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, is dealing with a knee issue.

That’s not great news for the Mavericks, who have aspirations of defending their district championship and making a deep playoff run to the state tournament. But it’s even worse news for Morton Ranch’s opponents, because all Lampkin’s absence has done is light more of a fire under senior star guard and Baylor signee L.J. Cryer.

Over the last six games, Cryer is averaging 35.8 points per game, including a 43-point wowzer in the Mavericks’ 90-56 district-opening win against Seven Lakes on Jan. 3.

Cryer has scored 40 or more points in a game seven times this season. He’s scored less than 30 points just five times in 20 games. In Morton Ranch’s win over Tompkins on Tuesday, which put the Mavs 14-8 overall and 2-0 in district play, Cryer scored 32 to surpass the 3,000-point career mark.

Even when it looks like he’s having an off game, Cryer can turn things around in a heartbeat. Against Seven Lakes, he had 10 points at the half as the Mavericks led 29-26. But Cryer scored 33 in the second half, hitting 5 of 7 3s, and the Mavericks cruised from the start of the third quarter, when Cryer scored seven points in the period’s first 90 seconds.

“I know I have to step up even more, take a couple more shots,” Cryer said. “I’ve got to will my team to wins. That’s it.”

For the season, Cryer is averaging 33.9 points per game on 54 percent shooting. He is hitting 44 percent of his 3-pointers on 10.2 attempts per game.

“Eddie’s a beast in the paint, so I’m just trying to be more aggressive,” Cryer said. “I feel like when he plays, I can be a bit more passive and get him some touches. But now, my team needs me to score the ball more. I love it. When I’m not making shots, I hear other people say to stop shooting, but I don’t really get into all that. I just do my job.”

By now, Mavericks coach Khris Turner is used to the show. But even against Seven Lakes, Turner was forced to raise an eyebrow or two every now and then.

“It’s rare that he amazes me,” Turner said. “Not that he’s not a good player, but because I get the privilege of watching this night in and night out. That’s business as usual for him.”

The fourth quarter was Cryer’s personal highlight reel as he scored 19 points. He hit all three of his 3-point attempts and delivered a couple of assists, including a behind-the-back beauty to senior forward Adrian Caldwell.

“It’s a beautiful thing. He works so hard,” Caldwell said of his point guard. “We all do, but he really does. There’s a reason he’s going to Baylor.”

At this point of his illustrious career, Cryer has seen any and every defense. Teams hedge ball screens hard. Yawn. They play aggressive help defense. Shrug. They’ll send double teams and traps time and time again. What else is new?

Still, Cryer gets his. There is an efficiency to his scoring prowess that belies his years. Never too fast, never too slow. And right when teams think they’ve got him solved? He drops 14 points in a third quarter to break open a three-point game.

“It feels good when you can’t miss,” Cryer said of his second half against the Spartans, when he outscored a tough Seven Lakes team, 33-30. “I had the hot hand and my teammates kept finding me. It was fun.”

With Lampkin out, and to relieve some of the offensive burden off Cryer, Turner has asked others to do more. He has awarded them more responsibility, and they’ve capitalized.

Senior guard Westley Sellers’ averages this season are unreal: 10.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 steals. Caldwell has emerged as a formidable threat in the paint, catching lobs by the handful and rebounding on both ends of the floor.

Guard Ethan Shiflett, asked to play more of a post role, has been a strong rebounder and scorer off hustle plays.

But there is no question Cryer is what makes Morton Ranch tick. What’s worse for Mavericks opponents is Cryer said he can be even better, particularly when it comes to making shots through fatigue, making pullup jumpers and finishing through contact.

“Just pushing through,” Cryer said. “I can always get better.”

Asked if he feels empathy for his sideline counterparts, Turner laughed and said no. The sport is cyclical. Cryer is the talk of Katy—Houston?—now. Just like the likes of Jay Jay Chandler and others before him, and just as there will be after him.

For now, Turner is content to enjoy the ride.

“I’m sure another school will have another star and do to us what we’re doing to teams,” Turner said. “But it’ll be hard to have another L.J. Cryer. I don’t empathize with anybody. I’m just glad I’m on the right side of the sideline with him.”

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