February 8, 2014

Closer look shows positives on court for Tigers, Indians

By Jeff Rancudo

— Morris Innovative High School basketball player Justin Scott stood near mid-court at City Park Elementary School’s gym on Friday night, thinking about his answer.

“How do you make it through a season when you don’t win a single game?” a visitor to the Tigers’ home court inquired — and Scott took time to devise his response.

The night’s final outcome resembled all 25 previous regular-season contests for the Tigers in their first varsity schedule — they lost as Murray County won the Region 7-2A matchup, 59-28.

The Tigers will face a to-be-determined opponent Monday evening in Calhoun in a play-in game for the Region 7-2A tournament. Murray County’s boys host Pepperell at 2:30 p.m. today in their regular-season finale and will also compete in the region tournament next week.

Like his Murray County opponents, who themselves won just their third game in 24 tries — they’re 3-12 in region play — Scott has needed plenty of patience this season. Athletic, fast and full of drive, the Morris Innovative High School sophomore oozes with ability. What he lacks in time-proven basketball skills, he makes up for with enthusiasm.

At times, Tigers coach Doug Peters feels Scott might feel pressure to carry the whole load. What does he need to get better? The same thing the Indians desire — time.

For the Tigers, it’s a good thing that some of the players Morris Innovative will be counting on in future were standing with Scott after the game listening in.

To his right was Tevin Robertson who, like Scott, scored nine points. To his left: Jaleel Brown and Jeremy Willis.

“Hey,” Scott said, putting his arms around the shoulders of his teammates as he answered the winless-season question. “These guys are my family. We’ve had some ups and down. But basketball is about attitude. It’s been shaky at times, but we’re going to come together as a family. We’re going to work hard this summer and try to get better.”

Peters knows team maturity and wins will come in time, but he said his Tigers have been complimented often for their sportsmanship and effort.

“Our guys are glad to be playing,” Peters added. “The basketball IQ is just not there yet. Attitude is good. And we’ve got some that, with a little time and coaching, have potential. We’ll have a good nucleus coming back next year.”

All 15 players on Murray County’s roster scored in Friday’s game, which was never close. Although his team isn’t full of great leapers or height, coach Greg Linder is proud that the Indians’ effort and execution has been strong this season.

Outside shooting ace Hunter Ary led the Indians with 14 points, while Andrew Carroll added nine, Cesar Romero had seven and Nick Stiles chipped in six.

“Our goal was to be ready to play our best basketball when the region tournament arrived,” Linder said. “We’ve taken steps in that direction tonight with intensity and confidence. We took some good, quality shots and we handled the ball better.”