Boys basketball: Munster blows big lead, but still beats Morton
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent March 4, 2014 11:08PM
Updated: April 6, 2014 6:39AM
EAST CHICAGO — Munster coach Mike Hackett would prefer his team have a little bit more of a killer instinct.
After Tuesday night’s 71-57 victory over Morton in opening game of the Class 4A East Chicago Central Sectional, it’s easy to see why.
The Mustangs (19-4) started a little slow — it was 10-all after the opening quarter — before taking a commanding 36-17 halftime lead with a very strong second period.
Munster led 40-17 early in the third period only to watch the Governors (8-14) rally behind the play of Devon Mingo — who scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the second half — to pull within 56-50 with 3:29 left.
Junior Drew Hackett, however, scored eight of his team-high 26 points from that point forward, helping his team advance to Friday’s first semifinal game against Lowell at 6 p.m.
“We’ve had a tendency to do that this year,’’ Munster coach Mike Hackett said. “Everytime we get out to a big, comfortable lead, we seem to relax and let the other team back into the game. I don’t know what it is — maybe it’s the makeup of this team — but I would really like us to have a little bit more of a killer mentality.
“As disappointed as I am in our ability to hold the lead, I’m still proud of the way we didn’t panic and that’s really to the kids’ credit.’’
Drew Hackett said the Mustangs talked pregame about what they needed to do against Morton.
“We knew that a good start was a big key, especially against a team like them, because you saw how they came back,’’ he said. “When they came back, we just knew we needed to start getting defensive stops and rebounds. Once we did that, we knew we had to keep it going.’’
Hackett obviously listened to the pregame talk and took it to heart as he scored 14 of the team’s first 28 points and had 16 by halftime.
“I started off pretty good, but then slowed up a little bit,’’ he said. “I had a ton of wide-open looks that I should have hit, and didn’t. I hit most of my shots with guys guarding me.’’
When Munster needed their captain to come through at the finish, though, he answered the call.
“It was my role as captain to go out there, hit those free throws, set the tone for us and let everyone know we’re going to win this game,’’ he said.
In addition to his 26 points, Hackett also had four rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Adam Ostoich (16 points), Nikola Mandic (11 points) and Pat McCarthy (10 points, 12 rebounds) all played big roles for the ‘Stangs.
Ryan Elabed (13) also finished in double figures for Morton.