Cougars battle, come up short: Morristown hangs on to win

MORRISTOWN

The Greenwood Christian Academy boys basketball team saw its final chance for a comeback sail into the stands.

After the Cougars’ Quentin Steele made a layup to cut Morristown’s lead to 76-71 with 25 seconds to go, Greenwood Christian’s Kegan Owen tried to get a delay of game warning to save the team a timeout. Unfortunately for Owen, the ball landed near the top of the stands and the referees called a technical.

Hayden Langkabel hit two free throws for Morristown to make it 78-71 and then got possession. Logan Lester was fouled and hit another free throw to lift the Class A No. 5 Yellow Jackets to a 79-71 victory against Greenwood Christian on Thursday night.

Cougars coach Jonny Marlin said he believes it should have just been a delay of game warning.

“(The referees) said if you throw it higher than three rows,” Marlin said. “I’ve not heard that. They said it was unsportsmanlike conduct. That’s their call, not mine.”

The Cougars only had one timeout left, and Marlin said he wanted to save it.

“It was definitely a key call,” Marlin said. “We wanted to get our defense set up.”

Sophomore forward Champ McCorkle scored a career-high 35 points for the Cougars (10-7), hitting six 3-pointers.

“Champ was really good,” Marlin said. “It was nice to see the ball go in for him. Next game it could be Q (Quentin Steele) that has the big game or Payton (Modlin). That’s the nice thing about this team; we have a lot of guys that can play offensively.”

Langkabel had 32 points for the Yellow Jackets (18-1), who won their 16th game in a row. Langkabel hit 9 of 10 free throws and Morristown was 21 of 26 from the foul line overall. The Cougars were 14 of 17 from the line.

The Yellow Jackets led 31-23 at halftime. The pace picked up in the third quarter as the Cougars outscored the Yellow Jackets 22-21 to trim the deficit to 52-45.

Morristown boosted its lead to 70-49 with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars kept battling.

“They’re No. 5 in the state for a reason,” Marlin said. “They’re on an incredible win streak. I thought our guys fought the whole time. At no point was there ever a look of defeat. Once they made their runs, we answered right back and got our runs. That’s what you have to do against good teams. Unfortunately, we didn’t make plays down the stretch like they did.”

Marlin said playing such a a tough team should help the Cougars down the stretch.

“You can definitely learn from this loss,” Marlin said. “That’s what we have to do. They’re a top team for a reason. Hopefully, it gives our guys a little confidence that we were right there the whole time.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.