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Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin calls guard Kain Harris “baby Kobe.”
“When we get to the fourth quarter and the game’s on the line, he wants the ball,” Irvin said.
Harris scored 10 fourth-quarter points Thursday night and the Mustangs needed his heroics to hold off an upset-minded Harlan team for a 66-63 Red South win at Harlan.
“I hate coming here,” Irvin said. “We know Harlan’s always going to give us a tough game. I remember coming here when we had Wayne Blackshear and winning at the buzzer. There’s something about these two teams playing here, it always comes down to the wire.”
Despite Harris's 20 -point performance, the Mustangs (4-0, 2-0) survived a major scare in the final 40 seconds to hold off the Falcons (1-7, 0-2).
With his team down 62-59, Harlan’s Divonte Lumpkin was fouled on a three-pointer. Lumpkin missed his chance to tie the game, connecting on two-of-three free throws.
After Jamal Burton (6 points, 8 rebounds) hit a pair of free throws for the Mustangs, Nate Bracy – who scored a game-high 22 points – scored to bring the Falcons within 64-63 and set up a wild final 10 seconds.
Morgan Park turned the ball over at halfcourt on its ensuing possession, but in the wild scramble that followed, Harlan ended up throwing the ball away.
Torry Johnson (8 points) hit two free throws with two seconds left and Bracy’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer rattled off the front of the rim and out.
“We battled,” Harlan coach Elvin Bryant said. “There were several times when a team that’s lost six of seven games could have quit and we didn’t. We just made some stupid mistakes down the stretch. We’re just a team that doesn’t know how to win yet.”
Josh Cunningham had 14 points and six rebounds and Markus Johnson added nine points for Morgan Park, which was playing without starters Charlie Moore (thigh injury) and Lamont Walker (ankle).
Andre Hogan (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Devon Felton (8 points, 6 rebounds) also contributed for Harlan.
Harlan led 27-26 at the half and 41-40 after three before Harris scored eight points in the first four minutes of the fourth to help the Mustangs take a 56-50 lead.
“This is definitely a wake-up call for us,” Harris said. “We know we have to play our best every game because every team we play is going to come at us with everything they have.”