GLOUCESTER — When a game gets tight late in the fourth quarter, big time players rise to the occasion.
On Sunday afternoon in the first round of the 8th Annual Bank Gloucester Holiday Tournament, Manchester Essex senior guard Petey Morton proved to be a big time player. The Hornets senior captain, who led the team with 20 points on the afternoon, nailed a pair of fourth quarter three pointers, the last one coming with 22 seconds left from well beyond the arc from the middle of the floor giving the Hornets a 59-58 win.
“Pete hit two huge shots. Big time, big player shots to come down the middle of the floor and bury those threes,” Hornets head coach Bryan Shields said.
Generals head coach Doug Hoak also tipped his cap to Morton.
“Obviously Morton stepped up big for them,” Hoak said. “Those two big threes killed us. We had them on the ropes and he brought them back twice.”
With the win, three-time defending tournament champion Manchester Essex (3-0) moves to the final to take on host Gloucester, who it beat in the finals each of the last two seasons, tonight back at the Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse (7:30 p.m.). Hamilton-Wenham (3-1) takes on Ipswich in the consolation game at 6.
The teams entered the fourth quarter with the Hornets clinging to a 44-42 lead in a game where the biggest lead was just seven points, and that came in the first quarter (17-10 Manchester Essex).
Just like they had for the previous three quarters, the Hornets and Generals continued to trade buckets in the final frame.
Hamilton-Wenham opened up the frame on a 6-0 run to take a 48-44 lead. But each time the Generals punched, the Hornets punched back going on a 6-0 run of their own to take a 50-48 lead with five minutes to play.