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Yellow Jackets earn 20th win of season

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

MORRISTOWN -- The four Morristown seniors can sense it. Although Friday was not the team’s final home game, the Yellow Jackets’ veteran group knows what is coming.

The foursome is aware that, eventually, all good things must come to an end -- even their senior year of hoops. 

In one of the best regular-season campaigns in school history, Class A No. 4 Morristown reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 1998 Friday in a 72-59 hang-on-tight victory over Eastern Hancock. Eli Streeval, Daniel Brenneman, Hayden Langkabel and Chance Collingwood all played key minutes with their basketball careers slowly winding down.

Despite allowing the visiting Royals to claw within five points in the fourth quarter, Morristown made enough winning plays down the stretch and used a 15 of 23 effort at the foul line to hold off a talented Eastern Hancock squad (14-5).

The Yellow Jackets (20-1) finished the 1997-98 season 22-2 under head coach Dan Carmony.

And regardless of the fourth quarter Friday, it was another victory -- the team’s 18th straight. High-scoring Morristown continues to find a way to win.

“I think we have been focusing on ourselves,” Streeval said afterwards. “We really go into practice and focus on our games and what we need to do to get ready.”

The group has not always been together, however. Langkabel, who finished with a game-high 24 points against Eastern Hancock, and Collingwood, a role player off the bench, have been on the team since fifth grade. After topping Triton Central in the Shelby County Tournament that season, the pair was joined by Streeval, who played for TC in fifth grade before moving to Morristown.

Streeval, who had 15 points in the win, still jokes about the loss in sixth grade.

Brenneman, another forward off the bench, transferred from Triton Central and was with the program last season. He said he has noticed the tight-knit nature of this group.

“I have noticed how well this group comes together,” Brenneman said. “We really do focus on us. Together, we can be really hard to beat, because we just keep coming together. Everyone knows their role.”

Junior Logan Laster was the third Yellow Jacket in double figures Friday with a near triple double. He finished with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Each member of the team is important, but they all know Laster is the one who runs the show.

“He is really good at creating for others,” Streeval said. “You have to at least bring two people over to him, and he can dump it off to one of us or Trevon Carlton.”

Morristown stormed out to a 14-6 lead after the first quarter Friday with Streeval scoring seven points. The team used a 7 of 14 effort in the second to earn a comfortable halftime lead.

Holding a 33-19 advantage at the break, the Yellow Jackets were outscored 18-16 in the third quarter. A 23-22 fourth quarter from the home team, which received three field goals from Langkabel in the frame, was enough to hang on for the win.

Eastern Hancock pulled within two scores, 54-49, in the fourth quarter (4:30) after an A.J. Muegge three. The senior guard tallied nine points in the fourth to rally his team back. The visitors, which were led in scoring by senior guard Addison True with 20 points, fell flat, however, and were outscored 18-10 the rest of the way.

“They can really shoot the ball,” Collingwood said of Eastern Hancock. “They just had a ton of shooters.”

The Morristown junior varsity team won 50-47 to move to 10-6 this year. Kameron Crim led the team with 14 points and Drake Moore added 12.

The Yellow Jackets play again Saturday at home against Shelbyville. After a Feb. 23 contest at Tri, Morristown will prepare for postseason play. Langkabel said the team’s focus, as it has been all season, will be on improving its defense before the touranment.

“Every day is it our defense (we are trying to improve),” Langkabel said. “I definitely want to go far in the tournament with these guys. We want to end on a good note.”

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.