Dwight Morrow 'Ds' up Elmwood Park

George Garrison IV and Dwight Morrow cruised past Elmwood Park, 84-51, and into the Bergen County Jamboree's Round of 16.

BERGENFIELD – For decades, Dwight Morrow has been a basketball program likes to push the pace and run opponents out of the gymnasium. This year, however, under new head coach Leo Jones, it is not so much business as usual for the Maroon Raiders. It’s not like Dwight Morrow is now a team looking to take the air out of the ball, but the focus is not solely how many points it scores in any given game.

“We focus heavily on defense and playing defense more with our feet than with our hands; that helps us to be in a position to win in most of the games we play,” said Jones. “They key for this team on both ends of the floor is to play 'we ball' not 'me ball'.”

The tweak was necessary and all Jones needed was for his players to buy in. They have and the result has turned Dwight Morrow from a talented, inconsistent squad to one that can make a legitimate run through the Bergen County Jamboree.

The Maroon Raiders showed just how quickly they can turn a game in their favor against Elmwood Park. In a three-minute stretch spanning the first and second quarters, they forced five turnovers and turned them all into baskets at the other end. That resulted in a 14-0 run and 10th-seeded Dwight Morrow cruised from there to an 84-51 win over No. 23 seed Elmwood Park in the first round of the Bergen County Jamboree on Saturday in Bergenfield.

Drew Tyre and Macio Robinson hit back-to-back threes as Dwight Morrow jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Simon Hanna kept the Crusaders within striking distance with nine first-quarter points, including a three-pointer from the wing that trimmed the deficit to 3, 14-11. That was as close as Elmwood Park would get as the Maroon Raiders turned the pressure up.

They kept the Crusaders in front of them and consistently stepped into passing lanes. Martini Martin and Owen Roberts each had a pair of transition baskets in a 14-0 run that broke open the game with Dwight Morrow taking a commanding 39-22 lead by halftime. Baskets by Roberts and Marcus Robinson bumped the lead up to 25 to put the game away late in the third quarter.

“When we play good defense and keep their guys in front of us we force turnovers and that sparks our offense,” said Martin. “When our defense creates our offense and we control tempo things start to come easy for us. I thought we ran our offense well today in the half-court too. We got the shots we wanted and we knocked them down.”

Dwight Morrow (11-6) had a balanced scoring attack with four players scoring in double-figures. Macio Robinson led the way with 16 points, including going 4 of 6 from three-point range. Martini had 15, Roberts had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, with Marcus Robinson chipping in with 11 points.

Hanna finished with a game-high 20 points for Elmwood Park (8-6). The Crusaders are on a five-game skid and will have to work hard to snap that this week with three tough games against Emerson, Manchester, and Hawthorne.

For Dwight Morrow it is on to the Jambo's Round of 16 next Saturday where they will face No. 7 seed Ridgewood. While that is a potential matchup problem for the Maroon Raiders, they are confident that they are peaking at the right time.

“We know Ridgewood is going to be a tough game. I think this team is starting to turn the corner though,” said Jones. “We see how much fun and how successful we can when we're playing team basketball. Now we have to build on the success we've had and get ourselves ready for a tough week ahead.”