McKinley upset John Curtis in state Select Division I quarterfinal action Friday night, 50-46 at Curtis.
The Patriots fought back after trailing by four points with less than 90 seconds left. They cut the margin to one and had the ball with a chance to tie or win, but a late turnover led to a McKinley three-point play that sealed the outcome.
From the Times-Picayune:
McKinley 50, Curtis 46: Kai Morgan’s 28 not enough as Panthers advance to Marsh Madness
At Curtis Lower School, Friday (March 3), Division I quarterfinals boys’ playoff game
Records: Curtis (25-11); McKinley (22-12)
HOW IT WAS WON
It just wasn’t meant to be for Curtis.
The Patriots gave their all but couldn’t overcome Tyrese Radford’s 27 points and five steals as McKinley survived, 50-46, on the road.
McKinley will face the winner top-seeded Scotlandville in Lake Charles next week in the Division I semifinals next Thursday.
In a furious, back-and-forth final quarter, Radford came up huge. The senior had three steals in the period and all led to fast break points for the Panthers.
Up 47-46 with only 17 seconds to play, Radford stole the ball then went the length of the court. He was fouled on his layup attempt and the resulting three-point play ultimately put the game out of reach.
“We’ve been here before but this game was so important because I got to get a ring now,” said a smiling Radford. “Defense wins championships so I had to step up. It was tough.”
The Panthers built as much as a nine point lead midway through the second quarter but the play of Kai Morgan would keep Curtis in the fight.
Morgan, who finished with a game-high 28 points, helped Curtis go on a 13-6 run to end the half which included two clutch 3s. His most poignant shot came as the clock hit all zeros at end of the second as he nailed a buzzer-beater 3, then screamed in adulation giving the Patriots a 28-26 lead at the intermission.
“It was a great feeling and I will remember it my whole life,” said Morgan of the second-quarter come back. “We have nothing to be ashamed of … our guys came out here and gave everything they had and that’s all you can ask for.”
Curtis also got a solid contribution from Ryghe’ Lions who added eight points, five blocks and two steals. Other than Morgan, Lions had the most impact on the game as his interior defense was a key factor in Curtis staying within striking distance.
Coach Mike Krajcer lamented the sloppy play late, but acknowledged the reason the Patriots were even in the game.
“Whoever (signs) Kai Morgan is going to get the best player in our area,” Krajcer said. “He plays as hard as anyone I’ve ever had and I think a lot of college coaches are missing the boat on him.”
Donell Jones added 10 points for the Patriots in the loss.
SCORE BY QUARTER
End of first: McKinley 16, Curtis 13
End of second: Curtis 28, McKinley 26
End of third: Curtis 37, McKinley 37
Final: McKinley 50, Curtis 46