Falcons' Defense Is Stout
The O'Neal boys used a formula that has helped produce a 3-0 conference record to defeat Carolina Friends 43-34 at home Friday night.
The Falcons, 3-11 overall, took control of the game by limiting the Quakers (2-6) to only five field goals and 15 points through three quarters. They also out-rebounded the visitors 28-15 in that span.
Sophomore guard Ray Morganstern led the winners with an all-around effort that included 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
"We've preached to them since day one," O'Neal coach Jason Bryd said, "that in order to be successful we're going to have to play good defense and get defensive rebounds. If we give up second-chance points, we can't compete. We're not big enough or good enough to do that."
Morganstern followed in a teammate's missed free throw and moments later canned a fall-away jumper, staking his team to a 12-4 lead early in the second quarter. Midway through the period he completed a three-point play off a drive, making it 17-7.
Back-to-back baskets by Michael McGowan off feeds from Devin Muldoon and Morganstern made it 21-13 at the intermission. Evan Davis grabbed five of his game-high 10 rebounds in the second period.
Stephen Clark blocked two shots as the Falcons really put the clamps on the Quaker attack in the third quarter, holding them to two points on one field goal in seven attempts. The Falcons took a 29-15 lead into the final period.
"Our defense has picked up a lot since last year because we have our whole team back," Morganstern said. "We have a lot more intensity and it's all starting to come together."
Morganstern is averaging 18.2 points per game. He scored 33 in a game against 17-1 Trinity Christian, the runner-up in the recent Holiday in the Pines tournament at Pinecrest. He had 31 another time.
Byrd is pleased with the way Morganstern is integrating his talents into the team's offensive scheme.
"He knows that the team is going to be successful if he gets his points during the offense," Byrd said. "That gives everyone else opportunities, too. We can't play one on five and he knows that.
"We're a hard team to match up with when we're hitting our shots because we do work hard to get open looks. We're going to grind it out and hope we're making our layups and jump shots."
Clark, a sophomore, contributed six points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Led by Davis, Clark and Willie Ross, the Falcons finished with a 37-25 edge on the boards.
"They're not very tall," Morganstern said of the Falcon frontline, "but they hustle up and down the court. They're athletic and they come to play."
Nate Vernon and Chris Chapman scored 12 points apiece to lead Carolina Friends. The Falcons face a tough Triad Athletic Conference test on Tuesday when they travel to meet Calvary Baptist.
Carolina Friends 4 9 2 18 -- 34
O'Neal 1 0 11 8 14 -- 43
Carolina Friends -- Vernon 4 1-2 12, Warren-Hicks 2 0-0 5, Schopler 2 1-2 5, Sall 0 0-0 0, Chapman 5 2-2 12, Moten-Tolson 0 0-0 0, Watson 0 0-0 0, Wick 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 13 4-6 34.
O'Neal -- Morganstern 9 4-5 23, Davis 2 0-0 4, McGowan 3 0-0 6, Clark 3 0-4 6, Ross 1 0-1 2, Neal 0 0-0 0, Muldoon 0 0-2 0, Richardson 1 0-0 2, Cutler 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 19 4-12 43.
Three-point goals: Carolina Friends 4 (Vernon 3, Warren-Hicks); O'Neal 1 (Morganstern).
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