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Morton junior guard Greg Carter stayed hot. And the Perez brothers brought some desperately needed reinforcements.
Carter scored a game-high 22 points and Waller Perez and Weisher Perez combined for 35 points and 23 rebounds as the Mustangs overcame a sluggish first half to run past Dunbar 70-54 in opening-round play of the Proviso West Holiday tournament Saturday in Hillside.
Carter scored 21 points in the first quarter against Hinsdale South Friday night. The 5-8 guard drilled five three-pointers on 8-for-14 shooting from the floor against the Mighty Men.
Morton (8-1) advances to play No. 13 Benet in the second round Thursday.
“The last couple of games, I can’t explain it, I’ve just been on,” Carter said. “But a big part of it is that I’ve been taking better shots the last couple of games.”
Behind the strong play of senior forward James Simmons, who posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Dunbar (5-4) led by as many seven points in the first quarter. It withstood Carter’s 10 points in the first half to lead 30-27 at the break.
Carter’s three-pointer from the right wing forged the first tie at 34-all of the second half. “We just played with a lot more energy in the second half,” Carter said.
Waller Perez, a 6-5 senior forward, was superb in the second half. He scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half. He added eight rebounds. His offensive putback provided the Mustangs’ first lead of the second half. His drive in traffic put the Mustangs up 48-43 to start the fourth quarter.
His younger brother, 6-6 sophomore Weishar Perez, collected an impressive double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. The Perez brothers’ dominance on the interior gave the Mustangs repeated second-chance opportunities. Morton outscored Dunbar 17-5 on second-chance points.
“My brother and I just click together out there,” Waller Perez said. “We know where the other one is, and just how to play together.”
Both teams struggled with turnovers. The difference was Morton converted their chances. Morton had a 27-12 difference in points off turnovers, even though they amassed just two fewer turnovers, 19 to the Mighty Men’s 21.
“When we do turn the ball over, we make an effort to get back on defense and that’s what we were able to do,” Waller Perez said.
Waller Perez also helped limit Simmons to just four points in the second half.
“We had to admit that [Simmons] was a really good player, and had to make an effort to know where he was at all times and where he got the ball,” Waller Perez said.
Junior forward Antario Simon added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs. After hitting just 8 of 26 from the field in the first half, Morton shot 64 percent (16-for-25) in the second half.
Dunbar center Eric Ross posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Khalid Beal had two three-pointers in contributing 10 points for the Mighty Men.