High School Basketball

Lampkin, reserves step up big for Morton Ranch in playoff opener

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 2/24/20

Eddie Lampkin struggled watching his team from the sidelines as he missed half of the regular season with a right knee injury. Feeling frustrated and helpless, the Morton Ranch senior center and TCU signee sought solace anywhere and everywhere through 16 games of absence.

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High School Basketball

Lampkin, reserves step up big for Morton Ranch in playoff opener

Posted

Eddie Lampkin struggled watching his team from the sidelines as he missed half of the regular season with a right knee injury. Feeling frustrated and helpless, the Morton Ranch senior center and TCU signee sought solace anywhere and everywhere through 16 games of absence.

“I tried to stay strong, especially mentally,” Lampkin said. “It was tough. I leaned on my people, my team, God. I got to the gym to shoot set shots. But now I’m here, and that’s all I care about. I feel refreshed.”

Perfect timing.

With senior star guard and Baylor signee L.J. Cryer having a self-admitted off game, Lampkin and the Mavs’ reserves paved way for a dramatic 63-56 win over Fort Bend Elkins in the Class 6A bi-district round of the playoffs on Feb. 24 at the Merrell Center.

Morton Ranch improved to 25-8 overall and stretched its winning streak to 13 games. The Mavs play Sam Houston (24-8) in the area round.

The 6-foot-10, 291-pound Lampkin totaled 13 points and 20 rebounds, the latter number a season-best. Six of those points were critical, coming late during the fourth quarter when Elkins (20-14) led 54-51 with 4:32 left.

“I was exhausted, but there was no way I was trying to go home early,” Lampkin said. “We want to make it to state, get to San Antonio. I played bad at the beginning of the game, so I wanted to finish strong. Get this win for my team. This made me feel great.”

As Lampkin starred late, the Mavs’ reserves of junior guard Dylon Syas, junior guard Kuot Wei and senior guard Ernest Ellis were impactful early.

Morton Ranch, which has had a tough time establishing consistent depth this season, got 16 points off the bench in the first half, spurred by Syas’ 10. Syas, who added four rebounds and four assists, has scored in double figures in three of the last five games.

“This team is real scary when you get role players and energy guys coming off the bench to produce,” said Syas, who credited his recent surge to getting up extra shots after practice. “If everybody on our team is hooping, there’s nobody that can beat us.”

Nobody was prouder, or more relieved, than Cryer, who scored a game-high 22 points to go with five assists, but finished 13 points below his season average.

“When they play like that, we’re hard to beat,” Cryer said of the bench. “I wasn’t really on, and they picked up the slack for me. It’s good to have them to rely on.”

Lampkin was out from Dec. 10 to Feb. 14. Prior to Monday’s game, he had averaged 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting a bit under 50 percent in two games since returning to the court.

He had difficulty finding the basket early against Elkins, missing a slew of easy shots around the rim, but his rebounding was dominant from start to finish.

“Now I try to go for 20 rebounds every game,” said Lampkin, who had 11 offensive rebounds and nine defensive. “Even when I miss, I want that ball back. I don’t care about points. Get rebounds, block some shots.”

And Lampkin closed the halves strong, a testament to improved conditioning. There was a minor scare with 1:06 left in the third quarter when he hobbled back to the bench following a congested scrum underneath the basket, but he returned soon thereafter.

“I feel 100 percent,” Lampkin said. “I just have to get my rhythm back, as far as getting the ball up and my touch around the rim … everything. I feel more comfortable moving around and getting up off more on my right leg.”

In the fourth quarter, trailing, Morton Ranch ran offense through Lampkin. He scored three inspired buckets, including a nice basket when he caught the ball at the top of the key, drove hard to his right and put in a layup.

“It shows him anything more than what it shows us,” coach Khris Turner said. “In the beginning, I think he was trying to figure himself out and get his confidence back. After tonight, and that second half, he’s getting there. This game is a start. Every game he’s played, he’s worked on something he needed to fix.”

It was very much a welcomed sight, in the direst of situations.

“We need him to play big,” Cryer said. “By him taking over at the end, I hope that gives him the confidence-booster. He seems hungry to me. He’s going to be big for us down the stretch.”

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