Size and speed were the difference as Morse High defeated San Dieguito High, 66-39, Saturday night in the San Diego Section 3-A quarterfinals at Morse.
A suffocating full-court press combination of 1-2-2 and 2-3 forced 29 San Dieguito turnovers, and larger, quicker Morse (20-2), the county's top-ranked team, easily advanced to meet Mount Miguel in Wednesday's semifinals.
"We played good defense," Morse Coach Ron Davis said. "That was the key. To beat a team like San Dieguito, you have to play good defense."
It took San Dieguito (16-10) a quarter before the Morse press began to take its toll. San Dieguito quickly fell behind, 5-0, 23 seconds into the game, but a three-point play by center Chris Bahr and two Steve Gregor baskets helped keep the score close after the first quarter, 18-13. But then the Morse press turned the game into a rout.
Starting the second quarter, the City Eastern League Player of the Year, Rey Parson, stole two San Dieguito passes and turned them into baskets and Willie Russell stole another one for an easy layup. Just more than a minute into the second quarter, Morse led, 24-13. After a San Dieguito timeout and a Mike McCune free throw, Morse scored the next five points for a 29-14 advantage.
Before the quarter had concluded, Morse went on another eight-point run to lead 41-21 at the half. Morse forced 14 San Dieguito turnovers in the second quarter and 17 in the half, most of which led directly to easy baskets.
"We've seen pressure but not that good of pressure," San Dieguito Coach Brian Daly said. "Morse deserves a lot of credit tonight for getting us out of our tempo."
San Dieguito played a patient passing offense geared to get the ball inside to Bahr, its tallest player at 6-feet 3-inches. Morse, however, countered with three players 6-4 or taller who controlled the boards and forced San Dieguito to shoot 35% (13 of 37).
Junior forward Marcus Combs scored nine first-quarter points and ended with 13 and 5 rebounds. He, along with center Anthony Butler and forward Guy Henry, combined for 24 points and 11 rebounds. Yet despite their presence, Bahr scored 18 points and had 9 of San Dieguito's 16 rebounds.
Russell led all scorers with 20 points, most of which came on breakaway dunks off the press, and Parson added 12 points and 9 steals.