During crunch time last season, the Wilson High Rams had a long list of veteran girls basketball players they could count on for clutch baskets.
That list is significantly shorter this year.
But junior forward Violet “Capri” Morrow is starting to emerge as the best option.
Morrow scored five points in the final 90 seconds Wednesday night, helping the seventh-ranked Rams fend off No. 10 Lincoln, 53-43, at home in a Narrows League 3A battle.
“Capri has to step up and be a focal point for us,” Wilson coach Michelle Birge said. “I thought there were times she was fading in the background when she needed to be the focal point. And there were times where she was either not wanting the ball or afraid to come to the ball. But as you saw, when she came to the ball, great things happen.”
Clinging to a 46-40 lead with 1:25 to go, Morrow hit an acrobatic layup to push the Wilson lead to eight points.
After Lincoln (9-1, 2-1 Narrows 3A) cut it to 48-43 on Breneya Johnson’s free throw, Morrow responded, sidestepping her defender and finishing the layup while getting fouled with 31 seconds remaining. She made the free throw to secure the win.
“It just takes me a little while (to flip the switch),” said a grinning Morrow, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Sophomore Kiara Knox led the Rams with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Freshman point guard Josie Matz added 10 points and five steals for Wilson, whose only two losses this season have come to 4A powers Kentwood and Bellarmine Prep.
“Everyone was like, ‘Wilson isn’t going to do anything (this season),’ ” Morrow said. “But we’re on the road back to (the) state (tournament).”
Although Wilson (8-2, 4-0 Narrows) managed to hold on for the win, the Rams couldn’t put the scrappy Abes away until late.
After leading at halftime, 26-20, Wilson started the third quarter on an 8-0 run on its way to a 36-29 lead after three periods. But Lincoln dominated the boards and got several easy baskets down low to keep things close, thanks in part to 6-foot-1 post Tamia Braggs, who scored 18 points and had 19 rebounds.
“We did just enough to win the game,” Birge said. “Our mistakes caused the game to be closer than it needed to be. We didn’t put our foot on their neck when we should have. (When) you have a team down by 10 to 12 (points), you’re supposed to shut the door. For whatever reason this year, we haven’t figured out a way to do that.”
Both teams were careless with the basketball.
Despite 19 turnovers, the Abes trailed by six points at halftime. Wilson did itself no favors in the second half, turning the ball over 12 times.
“Composure is something I thought we needed to have more of,” Birge said.