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Oran boys exploit height advantage to dump Saxony Lutheran
Saxony Lutheran lacked an answer for Oran's Jon Morrow.
When the Crusaders threw everything except the kitchen sink at Morrow, his Eagles teammates knocked down shots Friday night.
"We did about three or four different things," Saxony Lutheran coach Sam Sides said about his team's defense on Morrow. "We tried to double down on him some. We tried to play in front of him, behind him, sandwich him. Got to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. But when we did that, then the outside guys knocked down shots. Then that puts you in a dilemma then. It's hard to beat strong inside and outside both unless you've got some big kids."
The Eagles' height and sizzling shooting proved too much for the host Crusaders, who fell to the Eagles 79-61.
The 6-foot-5 Morrow scored a game-high 22 points by exploiting his height advantage. The tallest player on Saxony Lutheran's roster is 6-2.
"We knew that they weren't as tall as us, so we knew to look at us," Morrow said. "But we also knew they were going to come and double-team us, so we wanted to work the ball around and find the open man."
Morrow towered over the Crusaders and experienced some early success, hitting six of his first eight shots.
"Obviously that's something we discussed," Oran coach Joe Shoemaker said about feeding Morrow. "We did a good job early then they started doubling him. We didn't recognize where they were doubling from and weren't smart enough to hit the open guy. We kept trying to force it in there."
Saxony Lutheran (4-7) switched to a swarming defense on Morrow. Any time the Eagles tried to get the ball to him, two or three defenders would suck toward Morrow while waving their arms to slow him down.
"Sometimes it's kind of hard because we just want to force it in there because he's huge, especially compared to the kids we were playing tonight," Oran senior Nathan Michelsen said. "You just want to give it to him any time he's got someone on his back. It doesn't matter who it is, just give it in to him. Even if he's got two guys on his back, he needs the ball."
Shoemaker said the Eagles can't ignore Morrow when the defense keys on him. The answer is patience.
"It's something you have to recognize where the defense is," Shoemaker said. "It's not something we want to go away from. It's just we need to move the basketball and make a few more passes then see if they're still going to double him or leave someone else open. Try to reverse the ball quicker."
Morrow said he also must work harder and go up and get the ball when the defense collapses on him.
"Coach has been getting on me about jumping more," he said. "I'm more focused on jumping higher than the defense coming. Every single time, he'll just yell at me. I want to prove him wrong, so I'll jump higher."
Michelsen and his teammates didn't miss a beat when Morrow was blanketed. Michelsen went 4 of 4 from the field and scored 11 points in the third quarter. The Eagles shot 62 percent (8 of 13) from the field in the third quarter.
"They shot the ball extremely well, I thought," Sides said. "I don't think we were guarding them that bad, but not good enough."
The Eagles shot 61 percent (28 of 46) through the first three quarters. They led by 20 points entering the final quarter.
Oran needed to shoot that well to gain separation from the Crusaders. Saxony Lutheran leaned on its outside shooting to keep pace. The Crusaders drained four 3-pointers in the first quarter and only trailed 21-19 after the opening eight minutes.
"We wanted to contain the dribble better," Shoemaker said. "They were great at penetrating and pitching to open shooters and knocking them down. That's something we didn't execute on our game plan."
Sides noticed a difference in the Eagles' defense after the first quarter.
"They picked their defense up there after the first quarter," he said. "It's hard to sustain that 3-point shooting. We're going to have to find that scoring from somewhere."
Matt Wills sank a 3-pointer to even the score at 29-29 with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the second quarter.
Oran answered with a 14-2 run to end the quarter then scored the first five points of the third quarter to erase any doubt.
ORAN (79) -- Jon Morrow 22, Nathan Michelsen 19, Preston Scherer 8, Tyler Heuring 9, Reece Mangels 6, Caleb Priggel 7, Kody Moore 6, Adam Schaefer 2. FG 33, FT 7-8, F 18. (3-pointers: Scherer 2, Moore 2, Michelsen 1, Heuring 1. Fouled out: Heuring)
SAXONY LUTHERAN (61) -- Matt Wills 9, Gus Klaus 11, Kris Cook 8, Gabe Bohnert 8, Nick Johnson 4, Trent Steffens 3, Clayton Carver 11, Taylor Johnson 4, Shawn Hadler 3. FG 21, FT 10-17, F 12. (3-pointers: Wills 3, Klaus 1, Cook 2, Steffens 1, Carver 2. Fouled out: none)