CICERO – Saddled with early foul trouble, Victor Garrett wasn’t able to contribute the way he envisioned at the start of the West Suburban Gold conference opener Dec. 2.
That all changed in the second half.
Scoring 17 of his team-high 19 points over the final two quarters, the Morton senior led the Mustangs to a 69-67 victory over Willowbrook in Cicero.
Garrett scored 10 points in a row in the third quarter and capped his night with a late 3-pointer as Morton (3-3) fought off a Warriors comeback attempt.
“I felt upset with myself because I picked up dumb fouls,” said Garrett, who added a dunk early in the fourth quarter. “It started off kind of rocky, but I had to try to get it back when I got back out there. I’m glad we got the win.
“Adrian [Anderson] sees me when I cut [to the basket]. He’s a great point guard. He sees when I get open. He gets our offense going.”
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the Warriors clawed their way back behind Noah Campbell, who finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Willowbrook (1-4) took the lead at one point early in the final quarter and had a chance to tie and win it at the end, but the Warriors missed a layup and 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Luke Davis tallied 15 points, Tyler Royal came off the bench to score 12 on four trifectas and Isaac Sobieszczyk had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Willowbrook.
“We had an opportunity to pull it out,” said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins, whose team beat South Elgin at the St. Charles East tournament before losing to Plainfield East, Benet and the host school. “We are sort of a young team. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been put into the fire.
“Pretty much in this game, we had two guys [Campbell and Sobieszczyk while a third, Joey Tumilty, hasn’t played yet because of injury] that were getting solid minutes last year. For a lot of guys, this was their first opportunity in a conference game, on a Friday night, in front of a good crowd. Hopefully in that situation later in the season, we’ll be able to pull through.”
The Mustangs led 16-12 after the opening eight minutes and extended that margin to 29-24 at the half. Anderson finished with 13 points and seven steals. Fabian Tucker also was in double figures with 11 points. Michael Barnes contributed nine points and six rebounds.
“That’s a special win,” Anderson said. “I’m glad everyone could come together. We are a young team so it felt good to get that win. That will help build our confidence.
“I’m trying to take more pride in my defense this year. We have hard workers on this team. Anything I can do to make our bigs’ life easier, I’m going to do it.”
Morton went 2-2 at the Riverside-Brookfield tournament, notching wins over Zion-Benton and U-High before falling to Neuqua Valley.
“We’ve got a chance to be really good,” Morton coach Tony Martinucci said. “We just seem to blow leads. Even Neuqua was a tie game at the half. We get hit with runs, but today we didn’t quit. We came back.
“Victor is getting better every day. He is playing with so much confidence. Michael did a good job and Xavier [Valdivia] played really well [off the bench]. He saved us in a couple spots.”