Willowbrook falls back in the end
Morton senior forward Kendall Nichols' job description is pretty basic.
On a team filled with diminutive guards capable of lighting up a scoreboard with 3-pointers, the 6-foot-4 Nichols is a vital player because of his rebounding and inside presence.
"I have a lot of shooters on my team, so all I have to do is rebound, drive to the paint and get free throws and just do the dirty work," Nichols said. "Our guards make my life easier by shooting 3s."
Nichols put a big stamp on Friday's West Suburban Gold game against Willowbrook, scoring 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter in a 74-64 victory.
"I don't really have to score because we have a lot of scorers," Nichols said. "I had a bad half and my coach told me I had to come out and do something. I just worked hard and did what I had to do. It was a fun game."
Nichols, a springy and athletic skilled forward, shot 6-for-9 from the field and added 5 rebounds and 3 assists in just over 22 minutes of action in a game that featured a frenetic pace, 52 total 3-pointers attempted and 29 turnovers.
As a team, the Mustangs finished 9 of 31 on 3-pointers. Eliseo Gonzalez scorched the nets by burying all four of his 3-pointers in the second quarter to finish with a game-high 18 points. Manny Rodriguez poured in 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting on 3-pointers for the Mustangs (16-6, 6-2).
Gonzalez sparked the Mustangs with 8 points in a three-possession span, including hitting two 3-pointers, in the second quarter.
"I felt great and had my coaches telling me to keep on shooting," Gonzalez said. "Once I got open, I didn't hesitate. This was a huge win. We came in ready to play and knew we needed to win this game to get a good seed for the playoffs."
Willowbrook (9-16, 3-6) let an opportunity to rise in the conference standings slip through its hands despite double-double efforts from Everett Stubblefield III and Sean Paige. Sam Tumilty added 9 points and 3 steals.
"I thought we played well, but they pulled away in the end, which is a familiar story for us this year," Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins said. "I thought the difference was Gonzalez in the first half. He carried them off the bench ... Some other guys stepped up in the game. We need more of that to play a complete game."