The East Leopards and Highland Rams rivalry game was intense from beginning to end on Friday with several momentum swings. In the end, the Rams claimed bragging rights with a 70-68 victory, behind the solid all-around play of Henry Morris and his game-high 24 points.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of Highland and East games; that might have been one of the best,” said Highland coach Keith West. “Both teams were going at each other, both teams shot the ball extremely well, and we’re very fortunate to come out of here with a win.”
No matter what was thrown at him, Morris could not be stopped. Kept on the bench during the second quarter due to foul trouble, Morris made up for his lost time in the second half.
“Henry getting the two fouls early in the first quarter really hurt us, but it made him fresh during the third and fourth quarter — he was pretty impressive,” said West. “That’s a huge win for us, that’s huge.”
As for his second-half performance, Morris knew he had to take over. “I wanted to build that energy for my team; I felt like we lacked it earlier in the game,” he said.
With 2:14 left in the third quarter, play was stopped for more than 20 minutes as trainers attended to injured East center Mautrice Carter. The lengthy break did nothing to slow either team as play resumed — if anything the level of play picked up.
“Every time we thought we had it under control, they made adjustments and did some great things too, so my hat is off to Coach Lowe, he did a phenomenal job. They’re tough kids,” said West in regards to the Leopards.
The back-and-forth continued at a feverish pace as the game was winding down, then with seconds left, Morris rose to the occasion, scoring the go-ahead layup and then delivering the game-winning block with 0.9 seconds on the clock.
“I would take a block at the buzzer any day,” Morris said.
• Henry Morris leads the Rams with 24 points and delivers the key block East’s last possession.
• Jake Connor scores 29 points and knocks down five 3-pointers for the Rams.
• Andrew Dale drills three 3-pointers and leads East with 18 points.