Mark Schmetzer reports:
Lakota West was picked to win the Greater Miami Conference while Sycamore was seen as a middle-of-the-pack team by conference coaches going into the season.
Tuesday night at Lakota West, it was the visiting Aviators who looked like the overwhelming favorites. Senior Mason Morgan scored a career-high 21 points and made it a double-double night with 10 rebounds as Sycamore rolled to a 61-46 win over the Firebirds.
Junior guard Mitch Hill had 10 points for Sycamore (3-2, 2-1 GMC), which led by as many as 17 points in the second half. The Aviators have something to prove, the 6-foot-6 Morgan said.
“We know we don’t get any respect in the GMC,” said Morgan, who scored 18 with 15 rebounds in a 77-72 GMC loss to Fairfield on Friday. “This is the year we want to show the conference that Sycamore is legit.”
That’s what the coaches have been saying.
“We’ve been talking about that this week,” Sycamore coach David Moss said. “We’re a couple of possessions away from being 4-0. We’re a little better than our record.”
Senior guard Monty Boykins was the only Lakota West player to reach double figures, finishing with 14 points. The Firebirds, the No. 5 team in the Enquirer’s Division I coaches poll, set a season-low in points while shooting 34.5 percent (20-of-58) from the field during their third game in five days.
That’s part of the package when you play in the GMC, coach Sean Van Winkle said, and it doesn’t make it easier when games against teams such as No. 2 Lakota East are added to the schedule to help get to Ohio’s new limit of 22 in the regular season. The Firebirds (3-2, 2-1) lost to the Thunderhawks, 77-73, in what actually was a non-conference game on Saturday.
“That’s just what happens when you play in this conference,” Van Winkle said. “We understand that and enjoy the competition, but I don’t think we’re playing like we need to play to contend. Right now, I think we’re one of the worst teams in the conference.”
Lakota West also is missing 6-1 junior guard Tyler Williams, sidelined with a left foot injury since scoring 16 points in 16 minutes during the Firebirds’ season-opening win over Talawanda.
Sycamore’s defense played a role in Lakota West’s errant shooting, Van Winkle said.
“We haven’t been shooting the ball well all year, but I’m not going to take the credit away from them,” he said. “They defended us well and forced us into taking some bad shots.”
The Aviators never trailed after senior forward Isaiah Brown scored to give them a 6-4 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Sycamore, which went into the game shooting 37.4 percent from the field for the season, reached 51.7 percent (15-of-29) in the first half on the way to a 32-23 halftime lead. Morgan led the Aviators with eight points, while Hill, who was averaging 6.8 points per game, scored seven.
Boykins scored eight points in the first half to help keep Lakota West in the game.
Sycamore (3-2, 2-1 GMC) – Hill 4 0 10, Gruden 3 2 9, Vaught 2 0 4, Farquhar 3 2 9, Brown 4 0 8, Morgan 8 5 21. Totals: 24 9 61.
Lakota West (3-2, 2-2 GMC) – Hicks 1 0 2, Capossela 1 0 3, Barnes 3 0 6, Bowling 4 0 8, Thomas 2 0 5, Boykins 7 0 14, Grove 2 4 8. Totals: 20 4 46.
Halftime: Sycamore, 33-23. 3-pointers: S 4 (Hill 2, Gruden, Farquhar), LW 2 (Capossela, Thomas).