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Leyden came in hot. Morton came in angry.
The difference was telling.
“We had a rough Proviso West [Holiday tournament],” Morton coach Tony Martinucci said. “The kids had a lot of time to think about it, and they were angry. We had a tough and very physical week of practice and it paid off.”
Despite a scoreless first quarter, Morton senior forward Waller Perez dominated every phase by scoring 15 points and adding seven rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots as Morton pulverized Leyden 80-51 in West Suburban Gold action Friday night in Berwyn.
The Mustangs (9-3, 4-0) snapped the Eagles’ five-game winning streak.
Leyden junior guard Jonathan Wolf opened the game with a three-pointer. That was pretty much the lone highlight for the Eagles. Morton countered with a 10-0 burst as junior guard Greg Carter powered two separate 15-3 Mustang runs as they bolted to a commanding 43-21 lead at the break.
Carter scored six points apiece in the first and second quarters, totaling 14 for the game while adding seven assists and five
steals for the Mustangs. His disruptive power took the Eagles out of their offense.
Leyden had twice as many turnovers (six) as made baskets (three) in failing behind 21-9 after the first quarter. “Coach was pushing us that we really had to create tempo and push the ball against them before they had a chance to set up their 1-2-2 zone,” Carter said.
Despite the Mustangs’ 1-2 record at Proviso West, Carter was a bright spot, scoring at least 20 points in all three games. His early shooting was a tonic for the Mustangs. “I can’t describe it really, but I just feel real good with my shot right now,” Carter said.
“When Greg and Jarvis [Cannon] are hitting three-pointers early, like they
were tonight, with the Perez brothers on the inside, we’re a very tough team to beat,” Martinucci said.
Martinucci also extolled the play of 6-4 senior Rodrigo Nava. He scored 12 points, the most spectacular from a tip-dunk off Cannon’s missed three-pointer on the first possession of the second quarter. “He gave us a lot of energy, and he shot threes and got some rebounds,” Martinucci said.
Antario Simon also gave the Mustangs a boost. The 6-4 junior, a transfer from Alton, scored a career-high 17 points. He scored 12 points in the second half as Morton built a 33-point advantage. Sophomore center Weisher Perez contributed nine points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs.
“Waller and Greg were really pushing the ball and looking up the floor and they really looked for me,” Simon said. “Whenever I get into a game, the first thing I try to do is bring my defense and that’s what I was able to do.”
Nine different players scored for Morton.
Wolf scored 13 points and Omar Lozoya added 12 points for the Eagles (10-4, 1-4).
“Morton was bigger, faster and stronger than us. I thought we’d come in with confidence having won five in a row, but they punched us in the mouth and I was disappointed in how tentative -- even scarred -- we played as a result,” Leyden coach Bill Heisler said.
“We did not answer their energy at the beginning of the game,” said Heisler.