EAST CHICAGO | Morton drawing perennial power Munster in the sectional opener doesn't seem fair, does it?
That's like throwing an anvil in the water instead of a life preserver.
Munster showed up Tuesday night averaging 22 wins a season since 2008-09, while Morton had lost 16 straight games to the Mustangs dating back to 1996.
The defending champs are shooting for their 10th sectional title. Morton has only one -- that coming in 1976.
Guess what? None of it mattered.
The Mustangs led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, watched Morton pull to within six late in the fourth, and hung on for a 71-57 win in the 4A East Chicago Sectional opener.
"We've had a tendency that every time we get out to a big comfortable lead, we relax, the other team hits some big shots and they're back in the game," coach Mike Hackett said.
"I'd like to have more of a killer mentality that when we get a team down, we bury them. But that's not our M.O. this season."
Munster (19-4) now has a few days to catch its breath before meeting Lowell (16-4) in Friday's semifinals.
"You play with fire long enough and you get burned," Hackett said of taking the foot off your opponent's neck. "I am proud that our guys didn't panic.
"We hit our free throws in the fourth quarter (15 of 16) and were 22 of 26. That's pretty good."
Drew Hackett's 26 points led Munster. Adam Ostoich chipped in 16, Nikola Mandic 11 and Pat McCarthy 10 to go with a game-high 12 rebounds.
"We take our foot off the gas when we're up by 20," Ostoich said. "The free throw line closed it for us tonight. We've got to listen to coach and play like it's 0-0 on every possession."
Senior guard Devon Mingo put on quite a show for Morton (8-14) fans with 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The Governors were 7 of 15 the second half, including five 3s in the third quarter, and during one stretch outscored Munster 33-16 to pull within 56-50.