BATH — If fans at Bath Middle School Saturday afternoon looked away from the court in the first quarter, there was a good bet they missed something.
Playing the opening eight minutes like a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition, both Morse and Leavitt played end-to-end boys basketball, with the host Shipbuilders claiming a 20-16 lead.
A brief, five-second talk from Morse coach Sam Hayes focused the hosts, who outscored the Hornets 23-10 in the second quarter en route to a 74-49 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B win.
Morse never cooled off, shooting 54 percent (28-of-51) for the game, led by Ethan Winglass with 18 points and Keegan McDonough with 17.
“I thought we shot the ball real well, and the 3 went down for us,” said Hayes after watching his team sink 10 from behind the arc, including seven in the first half. “Teams tend to pack it in on us, and at times you shoot well while other times you don’t. Tonight, we had a bunch of people shooting.”
Casey Watson spearheaded the second-quarter run for Morse. He nailed three treys in the frame, including back-to-back to turn a 34-22 lead into a 40-22 advantage late in the half.
“Early on I thought we did a real nice job keeping a guy in front and behind Winglass, but Watson got hot in the second quarter and that got their other shooters going,” said Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway, whose Hornets fell to 3-4 and host Lincoln Academy on Tuesday. “Once you extend out, they are tough to defend.”
Watson, who has struggled to score at times, finished with nine points and five assists.
“Shooters are supposed to keep shooting, and eventually they will go down, and I know that I can make them,” said Watson, who felt his team’s defensive pressure in the second quarter turned the game around. “We can’t get into a run-and-gun with teams, and we need to settle it, knowing that we can score whenever we want. We need to keep moving the ball and getting those good shots. If we step it up on defense, we can keep rolling.”
“I told them they need to get back and start playing defense,” Hayes said. “It is great to out-score people, and the fans love it. But, you have to play defense if you want to win games. There are games where you are not shooting well, and if you are not playing defense, you’re in big trouble. We did a much better job after the first quarter.”
Five quick points from Winglass started the ball rolling in the opening frame. McDonough’s three-point play made for an 8-4 game, and a 3-pointer from Winglass opened up an 11-6 Morse advantage.
Leavitt pushed back, riding six first-quarter points from Korey Caito and superb passing from Mitchel Davis to keep the Hornets in it. Leavitt shot 50 percent (7-for-14) in the first eight minutes.
But, the Hornets went cold to start the second, missing six straight shots. On the other end, the Shipbuilders stepped it up. Watson nailed a trey, followed by a bucket each from McDonough and Winglass for a 27-16 Morse lead. After a Leavitt timeout, Morse guard Emil Stockholm scored his only points of the contest, a 3-pointer for a 30-16 edge.
Leavitt found its footing momentarily as Caito and Davis scored to cut the Morse advantage to 32-22 with 3:25 left until halftime. But, McDonough, who had 11 first-half points, scored, followed by the two bombs from Watson for an 18-point Shipbuilders lead.
“They dropped way off him, trying to take away the inside, and he brought them out after hitting those shots,” said Hayes of Watson. “After that, we were able to get inside for those easy shots.”
Morse closed the half with another 3, this one off the backboard at the buzzer by Dakota Freeman for a 43-26 halftime edge.
“They did a better job with their transition defense after the first, and they did a better job of spreading to the paint and getting to the elbow,” said Hathaway after his Hornets struggled to a 5-for-16 shooting performance in the second quarter.
Leavitt was able to get as close as 13 points in the second half, 45-32, but Morse slowly pulled away from there. Winglass picked up six more points in the third quarter, while Juwan Moore’s presence inside caused havoc for the Hornets. Moore finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
Things are likely to get a bit harder for Leavitt, which loses Davis to season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. Davis had seven points, dished out three assists and had two steals.
“We will have to account for his rebounding and defense somehow,” Hathaway said. “We have known that he will be out, so we have been preparing for it. We have to get prepared for Lincoln . We have to defend better that, knowing that we can’t give up 70 if we expect to win.”
Eli Calder paced Leavitt with 13 points and six rebounds, with Caito netting 10 points and Isaiah Calder eight. D’Andre James came off the Hornets bench to grab five rebounds.
McDonough dished out a game-high eight assists and picked up four steals for Morse, with Winglass grabbing seven boards. Watson picked up five assists as Morse finished with 22 helpers in the game.
The Shipbuilders (6-1) visit Spruce Mountain on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.