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Poly-hectic: Long Beach runs roughshod over Wolves in Whataburger opener
HALTOM CITY -- The Plano West boys basketball team was the proverbial lamb led to the slaughter Thursday night at the W.G. Thomas Coliseum.
Long Beach Poly, ranked No. 5 in the nation by ESPN, acquiesced every step of the way, evidenced by the 78-38 thrashing heaped upon the Wolves in the opening round of the Whataburger Tournament.
"[Poly] is senior-laden and athletic," said Anthony Morgan, West head coach. "There is some major Division I talent on that squad and when you're trying to get a young group some experience, that's what you need to see."
The Jackrabbits led wire-to-wire, opening the contest with a 3-pointer by Roschon Prince 20 seconds in and never looking back. Poly built on that advantage by racing out to a 9-0 lead and holding the Wolves without a field goal for the six-and-a-half minutes of the game.
That was because high-percentage shots were not to be had by the Wolves, smothered by the Jackrabbits' speed and lateral quickness for a bevy of errant 3-point attempts and turnovers in the early going.
"[Poly] got up on our guards a lot," Morgan said. "They're so quick and athletic and our guards haven't really experienced that at this level yet. I thought (senior) Zack Levick did a really good job and we had (sophomore) D.J. (Hogg) bring the ball up a bit to try and offset that pressure."
Any West offense was spawned courtesy of Hogg and sophomore Soso Jamabo who led the Wolves with 13 and 11 points, respectively. The contributions of the youthful duo manifested beyond that, with Hogg and Jamabo scoring or assisting on all but one West field goal in the loss.
"With as young as [Hogg and Jamabo] are, you see some really bright things in the future," Morgan said. "They can step up on a stage like this and knock down some shots; we just need to get more continuity."
Sophomore McCann Utu and senior A.J. Lozano were the only other Wolves to convert on field-goal attempts, with any other points amassed from the free throw line.
Poly proved a bit more imposing on the offensive end, building its first double-digit lead of the night with 15 seconds left in the first quarter after Artis Parris forced a turnover and scored a layup on the other end for a 16-5 advantage. The Wolves never managed to force the deficit to within single digits from that point forward.
Forced into a zone for the entirety of the game in an attempt to counter the Jackrabbits' size advantage, the defense struggled to keep the Poly frontcourt out of the paint with West out-rebounded, 33-10.
Prince was at the forefront of that surge, compiling 24 points and 11 rebounds on the night while Kameron Murrell added 15 points and Chris Sullivan scored 12.
The Wolves fell back on the Jamabo-Hogg tandem in the early going, with the two scoring 12 of West's 13 first-half points to trail Poly's 27.
That margin only widened in the second half, with six different Jackrabbits scoring in the third quarter alone to swell their lead to 48-26.
Both squads emptied their benches for the final eight minutes, with Murrell commandeering the Poly reserves with 11 fourth-quarter points. By that same accord, the Wolves scored just nine points total in the final stanza en route to suffering their most lopsided setback of the season.
"We want this to show them that that's what they need to work towards," Morgan said. "I like where we are. We battled tonight but [Poly has] got some really athletic kids and their pressure made things difficult for us."
Wolves win consolation bracket
While Thursday might not have made for the most ceremonious of introductions for the Wolves, Friday and Saturday proved far more fortuitous.
So much so that West ran the table the rest of the way en route to claiming the Whataburger orange division consolation bracket after defeating Fort Worth Trimble Tech, 46-45, on Saturday.
West earned the consolation crown after Lozano sank a pair of free throws inside the game's final 30 seconds to seal the win. The forward led West with 13 points while Hogg chipped in 10.
The remainder of the tournament included avenging a loss from one week prior as West bested Coppell in overtime, 73-67, and a 42-39 victory over Justin Northwest.
The Wolves return to action Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they host Lewisville.
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