Carroll, Pirates too much for Morris in Plano title game
PLANO – The defending champion – and the defending tournament MVP – was too much for Morris on Monday in the championship at the 51st annual Plano Christmas Classic.
Top-seeded Ottawa ended the Redskins' quest to win the tournament as the No. 6 seed, defeating them 68-50. For a half, Ottawa's John Carroll had as many points (23) as Morris, pacing the Pirates as they led 68-50. Carroll finished with 38 points to solidify his second straight Classic MVP award.
"He's a great player. We knew that. He played really well tonight," guard Jake Walker said of Carroll. "I think our defense let up a little bit, and it was easy for them to create shots."
The teams played neck and neck for the first eight minutes. A Brock Kukman jumper gave Morris its fifth and final leave with a minute left in the first quarter, though Ottawa's Issac Gassman had a conventional 3-point play 17 seconds later that allowed the Pirates to leave the quarter ahead 16-14.
Carroll scored the first four points overall and the first eight for the Pirates in the second quarter as they pulled away. By halftime, they led 37-21 and were 16 for 27 from the field while Morris was 9 for 27.
"I thought at times, we had guys trying to do too much," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said of the second quarter. "Our set plays were not working, so we tried to attack and draw and kick, and we got a little out of control."
An 8-3 run to open the second half, made possible by two baskets from Tanner Sampson and one each from Evan Bjelland and Sam Allen, gave Morris a flicker of hope. It got no closer than nine points away, which it achieved early in the fourth quarter. From there, a 10-3 Pirates run made the repeat inevitable.
Bjelland and Austin Patterson scored 12 points each to lead Morris, which is 8-2 overall. Sampson contributed 10 points and Walker eight.
"Hard work pays off. No one thought we were gonna be here, but in the Burlington [Central] game, we really showed what kind of team we were to get here," Walker said. "It was great for us, but we just fell short."