HAMMOND | Morton boys basketball coach Kevin Dermody has bought more apples in recent weeks than an old guy with the first name of Johnny and the surname Appleseed.
The old “apple a day” with keep the “doctor away” theme has been prevalent in the past month.
Slowly, though, Morton is getting healthy as the Governors showed on Tuesday night in the 14th annual Times Region Roundball Rumble.
And with health comes a better team, as the Govs proved in a tight 66-58 win over Hanover Central at the Hammond Civic Center.
“We're getting healthier and we're improving,” Dermody said after the win.
Rayan Elabed, who missed three games with a bum ankle, scored a game-high 24 points with five boards. Devon Mingo, who missed two games with a hip flexer, scored 16 with six assists in the win.
“We just kept moving the ball and hitting the open man,” said Elabed, who won the game's MVP honor. “Everyone was knocking down shots.”
Everyone like Eleazar Henderson, who nailed four 3-pointers and also scored 16 points.
“I felt hot,” Henderson said. “I felt like I could shoot from anywhere and it was going to go in.”
The other difference was from the line. Morton (3-6) was 2-of-9 from the free-throw line in the first half. The Govs were 18-of-20 from the charity stripe in the second half.
“Those are things you have to have,” said Elabed said, who was 8-of-8 from the line in the second half. “You have to make them when the game's on the line.”
Morton led 32-25 at halftime. The Govs had three players with top-flight scoring streaks in the first 18 minutes to gain the edge.
In the first quarter it was Elabed who hit two 3s and finished the frame with nine points. In the second quarter Mingo started taking the ball to the basket and the line, scoring eight points in the quarter.
As the point guard continued to break down Hanover's defense, it left Henderson open on the wing. Henderson nailed three 3-pointers in the quarter, including one at the buzzer to finish off first-half scoring.
Mingo assisted on two of Henderson's treys.
“We just can't play defense,” said Hanover coach Bryon Clouse, whose team dropped to 5-5 as losers of five straight. “Their dribble penetration killed us. Scoring 58 points is enough to win a high school game.”
Sean Kelly led the 'Cats with 22 points, but picked up a technical foul in the fourth quarter that was his fifth personal. Max Johnson scored 13 and Dan Kubiak had 12.
“I was looking for open spots and open people,” Mingo said. “I knew (Henderson) was going to hit those shots so I kept giving it to him.”