Morgan City High School's Jared Singleton
(The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Ellender defeats MCHS in a battle of district unbeatens
With first place in District 7-4A up for grabs Friday night, the Ellender boys’ basketball team used a stifling defensive effort to get past Morgan City 58-41.
Dionjahe Thomas began the game for Ellender with a dunk in the first minute. The Patriots (23-8 overall, 4-0 in district) got out to a 5-0 lead and led 9-1 after Jaiden Folse’s 3-pointer.
Nylan Francis drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Morgan City (14-12, 3-1) its first points from the floor and close the first quarter with the Tigers down 10-4.
Thomas, a 6-foot-8 freshman, got to the rim and added another dunk to put Ellender ahead 12-6 for the first points of the second quarter. Nykee Johnson made a fade-away bucket and then hit another shot to up the lead to 16-6 as Ellender showed signs of pulling away early.
The Patriots’ height advantage with Thomas and 6-foot-5 senior Frank Robinson helped in getting rebounds and limiting the Tigers to only a handful of second-chance shots.
Darrius Lucas made two foul shots to put Ellender up 21-13 going into the half.
The Patriots got two quick baskets to start the second half and went up 25-13 as Morgan City began to show signs of frustration.
By the final minute of the third, Morgan City still was struggling to hang around and stay within single digits. Morgan City trailed 33-22 going into the fourth quarter after Lucas added a fade-away basket in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Ellender slowly kept adding to its lead after Preston Bourda’s swift move to the basket opened up a shot and made it 40-26 with 5:30 remaining, and the Patriots got another basket from Robinson seconds later to build a 16-point lead as part of a 9-0 Ellender run.
The Patriots led by as many as 20 in the final period as they saved their best basketball of the night for the fourth quarter.
Robinson finished with a game-high 13 points for Ellender, while Lucas and Tyshaun Hester each finished with nine apiece.
“We did what we came here to do,” Patriots Coach Cornell Scott said. “We wanted to set the tone defensively. We know that Morgan City is a great offensive team, and they have some good players. We wanted to limit those players and keep them out of the paint. We wanted to maintain and control the boards. We felt like we had a big advantage there.”
With the win, Ellender took a big step toward clinching the District 7-4A title. The Patriots still have two district contests with E.D. White Catholic (2-2 district) and a fledgling South Terrebonne (0-4 district) team beginning next week to help settle the district title.
While the Patriots had a clear size advantage Friday night, Morgan City Coach Herman Hartman Jr. said Ellender inflicted the most damage with their guards.
“Their big guys, one had 13 points, but they didn’t beat us that bad in the paint,” Hartman said. “They were able to get some good looks, because we were letting the guards penetrate and we had to help out on defense. So it was really the guards that took advantage of our defense.
“We just weren’t successful (Friday),” Hartman added. “Their guards did a great job of penetrating and drawing the defenders up, so they could dish it down to the big men. I don’t really feel like the big men had to work as hard. The guards did the work.”
In spite of Friday’s loss, Morgan City is still very much alive for a playoff berth.
Getting to the postseason is what Hartman says he’s focused on.
“We didn’t get the game (Friday) like we wanted, but we still have two more games to finish out the regular season,” he said. “If it doesn’t motivate a team to go to the playoffs, then they’re on the wrong team. We put on our shoes and uniforms just like everybody else, and everybody has to come out to play. It just didn’t happen tonight. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen going forward. This was a district game, not a state championship.”
Deondre Grogan led Morgan City with 12 points Friday, and Jared Singleton finished with 10. Other Morgan City scorers were Devonta Grogan, eight; Kerwin Francois, five; Francis, three; and Leo Garrett, two;
Morgan City falls
The Morgan City Lady Tigers fell at home Friday to Ellender 66-29 in District 7-4A action.
No individual stats were available for Morgan City, who now will await its playoff opponent. Postseason brackets will be released Monday.
The Lady Tigers finished the regular season with a 12-13 overall record, including a 1-4 district mark.
Additional reporting by Review Sports Editor Geoff Stoute