MOORE — Moore players have said all year that when they play their best, they can beat the top teams in the state. With its hyper-frenzied offense and constant pressure defense, it can easily overwhelm opposing teams.
The Lions had a chance to prove that theory Saturday in the finals of the John Nobles Invitational Tournament. Facing No. 1 Bishop McGuiness, it was their chance to show they belong.
Unfortunately for MHS, they fell 62-61 in a hard fought game. But they may still have left with a belief they can be one top teams at the end of the year.
“Our boys fought hard,” Moore coach Aaron Howell said. “(Bishop McGuiness) is a very, very well disciplined team, well coached team, very mature kids. That was a tough game. Probably the toughest game we’ve played all year. They pulled a lot out of us. I think we pulled a little bit out of them. But I am proud of our boys. I think we are in the right direction.”
Throughout the night, the top-ranked Irish had opportunities to put the Lions away. But every time they built their lead to double digits, Moore would find a way to fight its way back into the contest.
“Just making the correcting substitutions and guys coming in and realizing it wasn’t about them,” Howell said. “We have our strengths, we pressure and make them turn it over. That got us back in the game.
Late in the contest, the Irish were called for an intentional foul and Maurice Davenport hit both free throws. The Irish led 56-54.
Dante Bulter forced Gregg Roberts into a turnover and Jaylon Wilson turned it into a 3-pointer to put the Lions down by one. After another turnover, Butler hit a pair of free throws and Moore led 59-56 with 2:50 on the clock.