By Roger Smith
KATY (VYPE Sports) – Learning to adjust is very often the key to success, for life in general and for surviving and advancing in the Houston area’s brutally competitive high school basketball playoffs.
Fort Bend Elkins adjusted to the monstrous, two-pronged problem that the Morton Ranch Mavericks present, with spectacular guard LJ Cryer and 6’10” post Eddie Lampkin. The Knights trailed 38-27 at the halftime break at Katy ISD’s Merrell Center but rode balanced scoring – with four of their five starters scoring in double figures – to a 70-66 win. The victory earns Elkins the right to face North Shore Friday at Cy Fair’s Berry Center in the Region III-6A semifinal round.
All of Morton Ranch’s opponents during their 28-7 season and the 13-game win streak that Elkins stopped would likely concede that Cryer and Lampkin – probably both – will score their share of points against any opponent. Therefore, keeping the rest of the Mavericks from doing major damage offensively would be part of a winning recipe, and the Knights did just that.
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Cryer scored a game-high 24 points on 9-for-20 shooting. Lampkin was hard to handle as always, dominating the boards (17 rebounds) and distributing the ball with skills that are rare for a big man (six assists), while cleanly blocking three shots.
Elkins, however, did limit Lampkin to 10 points, and most of the time, guarded him with one defender until he received the ball inside the free-throw lane. Tyler Callegari had that assignment for most of the game, and the Knights’ 6’3” senior forward often held his ground against the young man-mountain in a way that defied physics. Lampkin was only 2-for-7 on foul shots, and it opened the door to the Knights’ comeback.
Listen to the live broadcasts of Friday’s Region III-6A semifinals, Elkins vs. North Shore and Bush vs. George Ranch, at https://www.spreaker.com/show/fort-bend-sports-powered-by-vype, starting at 5:45 p.m.
Collin Warren led Elkins with 19 points, Donovan Williams scored 18, Callegari added 12 and Ja’Marcus Bell contributed 11 despite playing the last 18 minutes of scoreboard clock time with a leg injury that forced him into the training room during the second quarter.
Elkins (31-7) won the third quarter, 23-18, to close the gap to 56-50 entering the fourth. The Knights finally tied the game 64-all with less than four minutes to go and moved ahead 66-64, all the while adjusting: guard Jacolbi Harris landed awkwardly on his left hip and hobbled off the floor. The Knights didn’t miss a beat with Peter Moton relieving Harris. The Elkins trainers expedited getting Harris loosened up again, he returned to the floor by the three-minute mark.
In the last four minutes, the Knights outscored Morton Ranch 8-2 to move into the UIL state championship bracket’s “Sweet 16” among class team along with their Fort Bend ISD rivals, the Bush Broncos. Bush beat Sam Houston 44-35 and will meet the George Ranch Longhorns, 53-49 winners Tuesday vs. Beaumont United, in the second game of a Region III-6A semis doubleheader following Elkins vs. North Shore.
Morton Ranch’s prospects for next season are excellent. Under Head Coach Khris Turner, Cryer and Lampkin will be back for their senior season bent on redemption with a solid supporting cast.