Boys basketball: Marcus tops Plano West, 63-42
PLANO — After one quarter, it appeared Marcus and Plano West’s boys basketball teams were settling into the hard-fought contest the squads have gotten accustomed to over the past three years.
But all that changed in the second quarter, when the Marauders opened the frame with a 11-0 run and never looked back before pulling away from the Wolves in the second half for a 63-42 victory.
The Marauders (8-0) and Wolves (6-2) had met four other times during the past three years with Marcus coming out on top each time by an average margin of victory of 8.5 points.
“We played fantastic,” said Danny Henderson, Marcus coach. “We came into their home crowd, which was amazing. But our guys just completely diffused it with their defense and attacking the rim.”
Phil Forte recorded a game-high 22 points, while Nick Banyard and Marcus Smart posted 14 points apiece to go with 10 and five rebounds, respectively. A.J. Luckey followed with seven points and seven rebounds for Marcus, which outrebounded the Wolves, 37-13. Smart led Marcus with seven assists.
The Marauders also limited West posts Holt Harmon and T.J. Klein to eight and seven points, respectively. Jackson Forbes led the Wolves with nine points.
“We just wanted to execute on defense, but we kind of got away from our game plan,” said Anthony Morgan, West coach. “We were playing zone but they hit some shots and got up-and-down in transition on us a little bit early. I thought we were in it after the first quarter, but they made shots and got going and we couldn’t answer. When they’re hitting and you’re not, it’s a real tough game when you’re going against Division I players and what they have.”
The game opened with a frenetic pace that saw Smart and Banyard dunk on consecutive possessions to get Marcus in front, 4-0. Harmon responded with a 3-pointer for the Wolves and later Tim Okposin connected with Kendall Britton to put West up, 9-6. The Wolves closed the period with a 3-point connection from Brett Williams to go into the second leading, 12-10.
However, West would make only two more 3-point shots the rest of the way.
The Marauders, meanwhile, were heating up. The team posted the first 11 points of the second quarter to go in front, 21-12, before settling for a 27-18 halftime margin.
In the third, Marcus opened with a 15-3 run that saw its lead balloon to 42-21. A.J. Luckey played a key role in the spurt, going coast-to-coast for a layup and then again driving the length of the floor before finding Banyard for a dunk, prompting a West timeout.
“A.J. Luckey attacking the rim offensively really gets us going,” Henderson said. “He’s been a huge key to the way we’ve been playing lately. We’ve played really well and he is probably the catalyst.
“At halftime we talked about putting them away immediately in the third quarter and we did. We attacked the rim and put them away.”
Forte scored 17 of his points in the second half, shooting 4-of-6 from long-range for the game, while West finished with four 3-pointers as a team.
“They did a real good job with their sagging man defense,” Morgan said. “We were in transition and running early but we kind of got into playing their game. But when you can’t rebound, you can’t run. They were jumping over us and we weren’t blocking out. A tip-dunk, a put-back, it made it tough and we were forced to play a halfcourt set.
“They just beat us tonight.”
Things got chippy late in the contest when Smart and Okposin were involved in an altercation.
Okposin was guarding Smart on the perimeter and was caught on the chin by an elbow when Smart was clearing his arms and swinging the ball to the right. While falling back, Okposin threw a punch that just missed connecting with Smart, prompting a technical and immediate ejection for the West guard.
Following the contest, Smart had a few words for Morgan and later, Smart and Henderson were seen making their way back to the gym to meet with Morgan.
“It was in regards to us shaking hands,” Morgan said. “We’re always about sportsmanship. [Smart] had some words for me and didn’t want to shake my hand. I respect the kid as a player, but those kind of things don’t go. I just let his coach know, like we do … If there is a problem during the courtesy part, you let the coach know. That’s supposed to be the State MVP saying something to the opposing coach about an incident that was clearly both kids. He’s telling me that it was messed up and I didn’t think it was called for. You can see it on video. There was a hit by Smart and a retaliation by our kid that got ejected. We don’t condone that and we’ll have a conversation with [Okposin] and make sure we don’t do that in the future.
“There were some plays earlier that weren’t called that kind of led up to it. It’s just a game and we can’t let it get to this point here.”
Henderson had no comment on the issue.
Marcus continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Plano Senior.
“We’re just going to try and stay sharp,” Henderson said. “Quick, intense practices to stay sharp. If we keep winning, we’ll finish first and that at least allows us to know ahead of time what are place is in the playoff bracket and there’s a lot of benefit to that.”
West looks to bounce back when it hosts Allen at the same time.
“We’ll take from this the idea of being hungry and wanting to get back to play those guys again,” Morgan said. “That focus to have one more crack at them. If we have aspirations to go to state, we have a tough lower part of the bracket if we do finish second. A couple games get us rolling in the playoffs we might get a shot to see them at the regional tournament.”