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Boys basketball: 21st Century sends Kouts coach into retirement; Klikus lifts Morgan

21st Century's Dantrell Hurt (right) fights for loose ball with Kouts's Cody Nelsduring Kouts boys basketball sectional game held Kouts

21st Century's Dantrell Hurt (right) fights for a loose ball with Kouts's Cody Nelson during the Kouts boys basketball sectional game held at Kouts High School on Tuesday February 27, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 1, 2013 12:14PM



KOUTS — Morgan Township and Gary 21st Century survived and advanced to face off in Friday night’s semifinals. Morgan Township downed Gary Lighthouse 66-62 in the early game and 21st Century topped Kouts 56-49.

The win by the Cougars ended the illustrious 36-year career at Kouts for coach Marty Gaff, who is retiring.

The Cougars turned up the heat in the fourth quarter against Kouts, outscoring the Mustangs 22-9 to advance. The Cougars had three players in double figures. Louis Brown and Dantrell Hurt had 14 each and Mykel Mayes had 13.

“I feel really good, but this is just the beginning, there is a long way to go,” Cougars coach Rodney Williams said. “They (Kouts) are a great basketball team and Coach Gaff is a great coach and I have a lot of respect for them.

Kouts also had three players in double figures, led by Cody Nelson with 17. Andrew Birky had 14 and Max Everaert had 10.

“We didn’t handle their press well, we lost our composure and they put pretty good pressure on us, especially in the fourth quarter.” Gaff said. “We needed a couple of things to go right for us tonight. They were a lot more aggressive in the second half and we got sloppy with a lot of our passes. They just kept coming after us hard all night.”

In the early game, Morgan Township shot 73 percent from the field and rode the back of senior guard Ryan Klikus.

Klikus had 30 points and 10 rebounds to send his team to Friday night’s semifinals.

“Ryan is one of the best shooters I have ever seen,” Cherokees coach Eric Braden said. “He just elevates on his shot, before the game in practice he was dropping the ball in over the rim.”

Quite a feat considering Klikus is listed at 6-1.

“We’ve had a kind of rough season but the kids have been good about staying positive,” Braden said.

A putback at the buzzer by Jacob Koselke gave Morgan a 29-22 halftime advantage, its largest of the half.

The Lions cut the Cherokees lead to one point numerous times during the second half but never led during the game.

The Lions had four players in double figures — Benjamin Jackson had 17, Tajai Edwards had 13, Treshaun Sams had 12 and Thomas Smith had 10.

Chase Braden added 14 and Koselke pitched in with 10 for the Cherokees.



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