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Morehead pulls away late to notch win over rival McMichael

Morehead pulls away late to notch win over rival McMichael

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MAYODAN — An initial grinder of a game was anybody’s for the taking with a little more than three minutes to play in front of a packed house at McMichael High School.

But Morehead’s defense forced several late turnovers which resulted in points on the other end of the floor which allowed the Panthers to claim a 67-55 victory over cross-county rival McMichael in 2A Conference 34 action Friday night.

Prior to the final minutes of the fourth period, the lead, which changed hands several times over the course of the night, never exceeded two possessions until the end when MHS finally closed out the win.

For the most part, points weren’t easy to come by in the early going as both teams succeeded on locking down the perimeter.

Trailing in the final seconds of the first quarter, McMichael’s Matthew Wright knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 9-9 in the final seconds of the opening period.

The lead changed hands a few times in the second quarter as the intensity cranked up, but the Phoenix were able to stay on top at 26-25 thanks to a Cooper Kirkpatrick free throw right before the half.

Balanced scoring made all the difference for McMichael throughout the third period, with six different players getting in on the action.

But keeping Morehead’s Makel Smith locked down for four quarters proved to be no easy task. He knocked down two buckets in the third, but perhaps more important, earned several trips to the charity stripe where he drained 8 of 9 free throws which kept the Phoenix in the driver’s seat with a 45-43 lead heading into the final frame.

A seesaw battle ensued over the course of the majority of the fourth quarter, but Smith knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in addition to scores by Lucas Lynn, Landon Carter and Jordan Chandler which helped the Panthers outscore McMichael 24-10 in the final frame to lock up the win.

The victory was crucial for a Morehead team that dropped two-consecutive conference games prior to Friday.

“To keep our dreams alive, I definitely think that was a must-win,” Morehead head coach Damien Price said. “For morale – you know we were on a couple of game skid after losing some tough close games that could have gone the other way and this was good, especially going into exam week. We didn’t want to let this one get away then have to wait a whole week to let it linger. I think it will definitely help our moral going forward.”

For McMichael, the game was equally important following a rough start to the 2021-22 season. Injuries have plagued the Phoenix in recent weeks, yet head coach Randel Galloway says his guys continue to play with the “next man up,” never give up type of mentality.

“We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse. They’ve got some great players,” DMHS head coach Randel Galloway said. “Makel hit a couple of tough buckets, and I think Lucas might have hit one at the end, too. But we played pretty solid throughout four quarters except for the last few minutes. We couldn’t get anything to go down. It’s tough when a couple of them rim out. We’ve struggled with getting a little bit of continuity, both offensively and defensively, but I thought our guys played well tonight. We just couldn’t put enough together to come up with the win at the end.”

Price, a former assistant for Galloway, said he knows his team is always going to get McMichael’s best shot.

“I honestly think they are a really good team even though their record doesn’t quite show it,” Price said. “They are a lot better than when I scouted them. I knew that it was going to happen because no matter the records or how good or how bad year-in and year-out either team is, it is always going to be a dog-fight. I give them credit and they have a load of injuries too, so they are two or three healthy players away from being 4-0 instead of 0-4.”

Smith got off to an uncharacteristically slow start for Morehead, scoring just 8 points in the first half, but he made up for it down the stretch as he finished with a game-high 30 including four 3-point baskets. Lynn had a solid game as well, scoring 20 points and Carter added 8 more to pace the Panthers offensively.

Wright led McMichael with 21 points while Jayden Moore added 12 and Kirkpatrick chipped in 11.


Morehead (1-3, 9-4) will travel to take on Walkertown (3-1, 6-6).

McMichael (0-4, 2-10) will be at Reidsville (1-1, 3-4).

Both games are slated for Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.





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