Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas high school basketball, Katy ISD

Mavs take Katy ISD Classic title for 2nd straight year

By STEPHEN GREENWELL, Times Correspondent
Posted 12/8/19

While anyone can look at the box score and see the gaudy 42-point night that Morton Ranch senior guard L.J. Cryer had, that would obscure the real reason the Mavericks prevailed in the 75-65 championship game against Klein Forest in the gold bracket of the Katy ISD Classic tournament at the Merrell Center on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas high school basketball, Katy ISD

Mavs take Katy ISD Classic title for 2nd straight year

Posted

While anyone can look at the box score and see the gaudy 42-point night that Morton Ranch senior guard L.J. Cryer had, that would obscure the real reason the Mavericks prevailed in the 75-65 championship game against Klein Forest in the gold bracket of the Katy ISD Classic tournament at the Merrell Center on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The Mavericks (10-5) were actually in a hole at the end of the first quarter as the Eagles took advantage of slow defensive rotations for open 3-point shots. Klein Forest had an offensive rebound and a put-back for the 9-point lead at the end of the period, its largest of the game, after a Maverick failed to box out.

Facing the nine-point deficit, senior guard Westley Sellers and senior forward Adrian Caldwell said coach Khris Turner stressed the importance of trusting one another and increasing the defensive intensity.

“He just said to keep believing in each other,” Sellers said. “We’ve been in tougher situations before, so he just wanted us to keep our heads up and let each other know that we’re going to get through this together. We just counted on each other and basically just brought our defense throughout the rest of the game.”

Caldwell, who was on the bench as the deficit increased, said he was eager to get back on the court.

“Energy is what we needed,” he said, pointing toward the 75-65 final on the scoreboard as he spoke. “Throughout the second half, we turned it up. You see the scoreboard now.”

Sellers and senior center Eddie Lampkin (11 points, eight rebounds) were named to the all-tournament team. Cryer, who averaged 33.9 points on 48 percent 3-point shooting entering the championship game, was named the tournament’s most valuable player for the second straight season as the Mavericks won the tournament for the second straight year.

The defensive intensity picked up noticeably for the Mavericks in the second quarter and beyond, as they made up eight points, trailing 34-33 at the half. And in the second half, Cryer hit a pair of 3s to give Morton Ranch a 39-36 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

While Turner said he was happier with the defense as the game wore on, it still isn’t at the level that he’s seeing in practices.

“I know we’re not going to be perfect, and we work on it, but I get frustrated because we don’t necessarily do the things that we work on all the time,” he said. “We try to find as many drills as we can to mix it up, and we make sure we compete at practice. Whatever we’re doing, we find time to compete.”

In addition to leading to some easy buckets in transition and turnovers, the defense also seemed to wear Klein Forest down, forcing its top offensive players to expend more energy, and in turn, slowing its rotations on defense. While Cryer had one step-back 3-point shot in the corner, the majority of his looks were open in the second half.

Sellers said his defense is a source of pride, and something he wants to be known for. While he only had two points, he finished with nine assists and five steals.

“I know what I bring to the team, and that’s intensity and good defense,” said Sellers, who is averaging more than three steals per game this season. “I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the city of Houston, so when I step on the court I know I need to prove that. The other team’s best player, I want to guard them.”

Caldwell, a 200-pound 6-foot-3 wing, alternated between matching up with Klein Forest wings and spelling Lampkin in the frontcourt. He finished with nine points, four rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. He was often matched up with Klein Forest wing Dylan Hamilton, and the two jawed with one another on several possessions.

“That’s family right there,” he said about Hamilton, laughing. He said they often played on the same offseason squads. “That’s something we have between each other, which the referee didn’t know, but we play hard against one another.”

Although he knew Hamilton, Caldwell said his approach is similar against other players.

“Whoever the leader is, I’m going inside their head and changing the game, and seeing what happens,” he said. “I want to make them as uncomfortable as possible. Make them play our game instead of their game.”

Turner said he’s glad to see the team’s improvement, but it’s still a work in progress despite returning experienced players. The Mavericks started the season 0-4, but have since won 10 of their last 11 games.

“I think we’re still trying to find our game, with the pieces we have,” he said. “Yes, we return four starters, but at the same time, we’ve had some injuries and some other stuff, so it’s harder and we need to work these pieces in. I think we’re starting to figure it out.”

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