By Michael Kinney
Midwest City Beacon
MOORE – Carl Albert’s run at the 49th Annual John Nobles Invitational started as planned. The Titans rolled to a pair of impressive victories to land in the tournament finale.
But that is when things began to fall apart. Facing a surging Moore High squad, Carl Albert fell 60-45 to take second place.
“It wasn’t one of our better performances overall,” Carl Albert coach Jay Price said. “We didn’t score it very well. And I think a lot of that had to do with Moore’s defense. I thought they did a really good job of pushing us out of our stuff, but we didn’t score it very well, didn’t shoot it very well. We got ourselves behind a little bit. I don’t think our energy was real high defensively to start off with,
and that kind of got us behind the eight ball a little bit behind to play catch up.”
Part of the Titans’ issues was they had no answer for Moore’s big man in the middle. At 6-foot-7 and more than 300 pounds, Ebi Bortey, who was named the tournament MVP, was more than a handful for the undersized front line.
With Jayden Mott no longer part of the Titans program after withdrawing from school, that left Marcus James to try and handle Bortey and the other MHS big men.
Behind the play of Jayden and Quincy Hopkins, the Titans kept the contest close. But in the end, the Lions were able to pull away.
“We had a chance there. We cut it down to four or five and then we couldn’t close the door and get back and tie it up,” Price said. “And then they got loose for some easy ones, hit a couple of big threes that stretched it out. So it wasn’t one of our better performances. But you have those sometimes. This is the 12th game in a row for us playing on the road. It’s been a long journey. I think we might’ve just wore down a little bit.”
Bortey scored 9 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Darian Grant led Moore in scoring with 23 points and Tristan Hankins chipped in with 10 points.
Sophomore Jayden Hopkins paced Carl Albert with 18 points and earned a spot on the all-tournament first team. Quincy Hopkins added 11 points.
To get to the championship game, Carl Albert (12-4) overwhelmed Ardmore in the opening round. They then faced a tough Westmoore unit in the semifinals and came away with a 63-54 victory.
The Titans will get back to district action Tuesday when they face No. 9 El Reno. It will be their first game in front of their home crowd since Dec. 15.
“We’ve played three tournaments now in about four weeks. We were at Mustang and then out to Bartlesville, had a weekend off and then back to this tournament,” Price said. “So it’s been a pretty heavy road. But the tournament’s great. You get to see a lot of things. You get to play a lot of kids, so it was good for us. But we’re ready to get into district play and finish this thing up. Get ready for playoffs.”