It was competitive for the first half, but then Mark Morris went on a 30-5 run to seal a 63-40 win over rival R.A. Long at Ted M. Natt Court on Friday.
Mark Morris forward Reece Gibb led all scorers with 17 points, while Jacks’ post Jacob Thompson grabbed 14 rebounds to go with three steals, six assists and six points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Post Rarey Sommer added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Monarchs.
“I applaud R.A. Long’s efforts. The first half we had a really tough time getting on track, and they had a lot to do with that,” MM coach Bill Bakamus said. “They’re not young anymore because they put a season in. When you say you’re young and you’ve put a season in, the youngsters have grown up.”
A 26-21 Monarchs’ halftime lead was bolstered by a Gibb 3-pointer in the opening 15 seconds of the third quarter and the lead built from there. Shots that were falling previously for the Jacks weren’t anymore, and the Monarchs found their stroke.
“We got our transition game going; our defense was amping up a little bit, and as the game progressed it kind of wore them down,” Bakamus said. “What we wanted to do what be very basic in the second half. We did a lot of thinking in the play and it helped.”
What was a close game turned into a lopsided win for the Monarchs, and R.A. Long became increasingly frustrated.
It showed when Thompson committed three fouls within seven minutes of each other, slamming his hands to the floor after a spectacular defensive showing.
“Couldn’t be more proud of him,” RAL coach Jeray Key said. “He got into a little trouble early in the season, and we had a talk. When he got back on the team, he was our best leader the rest of the year. He’s got so much potential. He doesn’t know how good he can be yet.”
Thompson, Dana Cathcart and Tristen Arruda are set to graduate after each played one of their better games of the year. Key was pleased with the team’s growth this season, which finishes at 5-15, and will have a group of six seniors next season.
Cathcart led the Jacks with 13 points.
“Once we hit a stride, we were able to hang in every league game besides River and the Mark Morris game,” Key said. “We were right here in this one until it got out of hand.”
The Monarchs (12-7, 8-3 league) still have a matchup with Ridgefield slated for Monday, but will enter the Southwest District tournament as the GSHL No. 2 seed. They’re will host an opening-round game on Feb. 9.
“This thing is as wide open as it’s ever been,” Bakamus said. “That’s why you play the game. It’s not March Madness, it’s February madness, and anything can happen. You want to be playing your best basketball this time of year.”