By Ray Hamill — Head coach Taylor Morrow says the legacy of legendary former South Fork coaches and players inspired him and this year’s team on their way to an historic championship on Friday night.
The Cubs rallied from a 15-point deficit to edge St. Bernard’s in overtime, 69-68, claiming the program’s first Little 4 championship (outright or shared) since the 1992/93 season, a team that was coached by Rich Givins.
The day after the breakthrough achievement, Morrow paid tribute to legendary former South Fork players and coaches like Gene Cotter, Steve Ball and Clint Bainbridge.
“For me personally, it means a lot because I’m living up to the people I idolized as a young person,” said Morrow, a 2006 South Fork graduate who admitted he felt deeply emotional about the championship when the occasion sunk in on Saturday morning. “And it means a lot to the players as well. For them, their entire basketball careers, we’ve been middle of the pack or worse. Now they get to be somebody else’s inspiration, or maybe because of this they’ll be inspired to make something out of basketball or use it to fuel something else in life.”
The team’s five seniors — Kobe Gellman, Zech Wilks, Tanner Curran, Oliver Tatton and Ryder York — all started on what was senior night, and all of them played a major role in the win.
“They set a really, really great tone,” Morrow said.
Tatton was on fire, finishing with 24 points and nailing six 3-pointers.
“Oliver took his game to the next level,” the coach said. “He was really, really focused.”
Curran added 15 points and had two huge plays late in the game.
The first came late in the fourth quarter, when he stole the ball on his way to a successful and-one to tie the game, and the second came late in overtime, when he stole the ball on the way to scoring what would be the winning basket just 21 seconds from time.
York added 16 points and took an inspirational charge late in the game that “turned the tide,” according to Morrow.
“I told him, ‘you had the sauce tonight,’” the head coach said of a grateful York, who saw more minutes than usual and thanked his coach after the win.
Curran and York had both missed an earlier league meeting with St. Bernard’s — a 14-point loss — and their presence this time was pivotal.
“It was really big to have them,” Morrow said. “And another big factor was just the team’s overall focus and want to make a little bit of school history.”
Shevy Bero and John Harding each also played a huge role in the win, with each of them stepping up their game down the stretch.
The Cubs, who closed out league play 5-1 and are now 11-3 overall, are a No. 1 seed for next week’s Dick Niclai tournament and will have a first-round bye before hosting a semifinal against either Del Norte or McKinleyville on Thursday.
If they win that game, they could very well host this year’s tourney championship game on Friday night, depending on how the Big 5 No. 1 seed, the Arcata Tigers, fare in their semifinal.
“That would be crazy,” Morrow said. “South Fork has never even been in a (Niclai) championship game.”
If the Cubs and Tigers both win their semifinals, a coin flip will decide who hosts the championship.
Categories: Basketball, South Fork
This is a wonderful, heartfelt article. I love the perspective honoring the history of South Fork players and coaches of the past. My hat’s off to Head Coach Taylor and the team.