Mo Morgan wasn’t the first option to have the ball in his hands in the closing seconds of North’s 56-55 win over visiting Kenston on Friday but he hit the game-winning 3-pointer anyway.
With 9.8 seconds left, North coach Rob Koelling drew up a play to get the ball to freshman Kyle Randall at the top of the arc. When the Bombers cut off that option the inbounds pass went to Mikey Duleba but the Bombers defended his approach and he found Morgan open in the opposite corner.
“When Mikey passed me the ball I kind of lost it and then shot it,” Morgan said. “It felt so good to hit my first game-winner for the team. We all played together and didn’t let nothing too much get to us.”
The Rangers, who have now won two in a row, used a last-second shot by Aaron Broja to beat Chardon on Tuesday.
“It’s exciting and it’s exciting for the boys too,” North coach Rob Koelling said. “That’s them staying composed and just grinding it out and knowing when the time comes they’ll be ready to step up.”
With 15 of his game-high 27 points in the first quarter, Ryan Long helped Kenston build an early lead.
The Bombers led 19-10 after the first quarter and 36-26 at halftime.
Koelling made his halftime adjustments and the Rangers slowly worked their way back into the game.
“Long had a big first half–he had 20 in the first half–and we just weren’t stopping him,” Koelling said. “He made some good shots we have to give him credit for but started pressing and getting some baskets back. In the second half, anytime they went into him in the post we doubled down and forced him to kick it out. We held him to four points in the third quarter and nine in the second half total. The guys stepped up and locked him down on defense to do their part.”
Randall hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to cut Kenston’s lead to 43-42 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
That clutch basket is what prompted Koelling to look for Randall on the last shot of the game.
“The play was drawn up for Randall to come up to the top of the 3,” Koelling said. “Mikey was our outlet in the corner. We trust the ball in Mikey’s hands. He drove baseline and didn’t have a shot at the basket so he kicked it out to the opposite corner and Mo stepped up and knocked it down.”
Morgan had a bad miss earlier in the quarter but he quickly erased that shot and delivered the win to the Rangers.
“What you didn’t see is a minute prior to that is he air-balled a 3 from the opposite corner,” Koelling said. “Talk about a shooter’s memory, for a freshman, that’s huge wanting to have that ball. He didn’t second-guess himself.”
Broja led the Rangers with 20 points. Brian Skolny contributed with nine, Nate Scott finished with seven and Evan Liddington pitched in with six. Randle and Morgan added four and three points, respectively.
The Rangers host South on Tuesday.
North 56, Kenston 55
Kenston: Long 27, Stanley 9, Maynard 4, Gorski 3, Ransom 2, Quinlan 2, Jourdian 1
North: Broja 20, Skolny 9, Scott 7, Liddington 6, Randle 4, Morgan 3, Proctor 2, Duleba 2
Kenston 19 17 7 12 — 55
North 10 16 16 14 — 56
Free throws: Kenston 10 of 14, North 9 of 12; 3-pointers: Kenston 5 of 13, North 9 of 25; Rebounds: Kenston 33, North 25; Assists: Kenston 15, North 13