Beecher sophomore, Monte Morris, scores two of his a game-high 21 points in a overtime loss against McBain in the Class C semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. - (Ryan Garza | Flint Journal )

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

EAST LANSING, Michigan – Monte Morris had just finished a painful press conference.

Minutes earlier, the Beecher Buccaneers had fallen in overtime to McBain, 70-66, in the semifinals of a Class C showdown at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Even after posting a game-high 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, Morris and the Bucs collapsed just short of a state title. So as he stepped down from the podium and out of the media room, his dreams were shattered for the time being. The sophomore fought back the tears until he was approached by a familiar face while heading to the locker room: Mateen Cleaves.

Morris has been dubbed as Flint’s next breakout star on the hardwood, as he deserves to be, so it was only right that the city’s most notable hoops figure take him under his wing and attempt to keep his spirits high. The two exchanged cell phone numbers and Cleaves promised him he would get him ready for next season with intense off-season workouts. Anyone surrounding the two could feel the torch being passed but Morris doesn’t let pressure get him too overwhelmed.

“It feels real good, me coming in as a sophomore and getting all this but it’s just motivation to me to stay working harder in the gym,” Morris said after an exchange with Cleaves. “So I just take it and just put it in one ear and out the other because I know it’s just all hype but you still gotta work hard and do what you do.”

Averaging 18 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.9 rebounds, Morris has earned the praise. The 15-year-old put the Bucs on his scrawny shoulders and took them as far as he could carry them for the 2010-2011 juncture while becoming a unanimous pick on the Class C All-State basketball team in the process.

With another long post-season run under his belt, Morris feels as though his game has greatly benefited from this season’s playoffs. During this period, he recorded a triple-double in a contest against Muskegon Western Michigan Christian in the quarterfinals and exploded with a 26-point barrage against Hamady in the district opener.

“We grew a lot, me I grew too, but as a team I feel that we came out this whole season with a better focus than last season,” Morris said. “We knew what it takes but the ball of the bounce just didn’t fall in the right spots.”

It’s scary to think that Morris still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Even after a tough trial, Beecher seems poised enough to fix the errors and make another push towards a championship.

“I was really confident going into this game because last year the lights kind of got to me and my team and we wasn’t playing our regular style of ball so this year we was comfortable with the atmosphere and the lights,” Morris said.

“Me (Antuan) Burks, Cortez (Robinson) and all the guys returning are going to go hard in the weight room, gain a couple of pounds, and people should grow and we’re going to work even harder. You will see it though.”

The show may be over at this moment in time but everyone should be glued to the screen to watch his progression for next season. Monte Morris will be special talent.

 

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By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — If pressure busts pipes than why is Patrick Lucas-Perry still standing?

Entering high school, PLP had just as much pressure to succeed on the hardwood at Powers Catholic than Tiger Woods has to return to his old form in 2011.

Yes, it was that intense.

Lucas-Perry is the youngest of five children. His dad, LaVal Perry, played under Dick Vitale at the University of Detroit. His brother, Laval, was an All-State high school player at Powers and now a member of Oakland University’s hoops squad.

Patrick’s sister, Victoria, was also a WNBA prospect after four stellar seasons at Michigan State, including an appearance in the 2004-2005 national championship game against Baylor.

“The pressure that I’ve had on me has just been inspiration and a reminder of who I am and what I need to do with my life,” Patrick said. “I take it as something that will always be there to keep pushing.”

Although the expectations were aerial, his response was impressive.

Now in his senior year, Patrick has been somewhat of the All-American kid.

He’s spent four years on varsity and will break the MHSAA record for most games played (106) if Powers makes it to regionals. He won the Class B state championship as a sophomore. He has a 3.8 grade point average. He averages 17.2 points and 6.5 assists per game. No tattoos. No girlfriend. He bakes. He’s a big league “texter.” He’s a true momma’s boy and a Christian.

“He’s met and exceeded all of our expectations,” Patrick’s mother, Patricia said.

“I think he’s had an advantage because he’s had to watch us all and learn from our mistakes, from our highs and lows and kind of develop into a really well-rounded player,” His older sister, Victoria said.

While it does have its perks, being the baby of the family has not been easy for PLP. Especially in a family that enforces tough love. Like the time when Patrick tore his ACL this past summer playing with the Michigan Mustangs. In the first AAU game of the season at a tournament on Oakland’s campus, he thought he “tweaked” something and finished the contest scoring over 20 points.

Unaware of the severity of the injury at the time, Victoria yelled from the sidelines for him to “suck it up,” which is the reason he now plays with a bulky “Stone Cold” Steve Austin knee brace attached to his leg.

An MRI after the game would later reveal the damage and he missed out on a pivotal recruiting summer. Despite the blemish, Patrick now laughs the situation off and is pleased with the college offers he currently has on the table.

“I like to think that everything happens for a reason and maybe I could have got scholarships, but I feel like the opportunities and the scholarships that I have right now are the best opportunities for me,” Patrick said.

According to Patrick, schools like Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oakland University, and Boston College have all aggressively pursued him. At the moment, his top two choices are narrowed to Oakland and Penn, but all that could change. His mind can change day-by-day, but the look on his face when asked about joining his brother in Rochester next season was priceless.

“I’ve never done it before and it would be something that’s just a insurmountable, great experience all tied into one especially with Coach (Greg) Kampe there,” Patrick said while speaking of Oakland’s program and potentially playing with his brother. “Being a Golden Grizzlie would just be an all-around great opportunity and something that would last for a lifetime.”

Patrick will not make his official decision on his college arrangement until after the season. One which he hopes will end with another Powers celebration at the Breslin Center after a state championship.