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BROKEN HAND WON'T STAND MORRIS INSPIRED HART TEAM BY PLAYING DESPITE INJURY.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

NEWHALL - When boys' basketball standout Andrew Morris broke his hand during a game against Canyon High in late January, the timing couldn't have been worse.

Hart was on the verge of clinching the Foothill League title with four games remaining, and a serious injury to one of the team's tallest senior starters - the 6-foot-4 Morris was averaging 10 points and eight rebounds - was the last thing the Indians needed.

Doctors fitted Morris with a cast and told him his season was over. But a week later, moments before Hart's tipoff at archrival Valencia, Morris crudely cut off his cast in front of his teammates and declared himself ready and willing to help the team because the league title was on the line that night.

``I think that was probably the most inspirational thing I've ever seen,'' teammate Navid Khajavi said. ``He just sawed off the cast, and we were just so pumped up it all came together. We all thought he was crazy for doing it, but that's just the way Andrew Morris is.''

Sure enough, Hart defeated Valencia 69-62 that night to clinch the title. His broken hand wrapped in bandages, Morris made an appearance in the second half and immediately grabbed an offensive rebound. However, after Morris missed two free throws - the worst-case scenario for a one-armed basketball player, most figured - coach Tom Kelly brought him back to the bench, presumably for cautionary reasons.

``His parents said it was all right for Andrew to play. It was their call,'' Kelly said.

Morris said he went to three different doctors hoping to get medically cleared.

``All three of them laughed at the idea. They said there wasn't even a chance,'' he said. ``But I just couldn't stand sitting on the bench and not being able to help my team. I wanted to play so bad that when I was waiting, time practically stood still; a week seemed like two or three months.''

Teammate Cody Kase, also a top football player and one of Morris' best friends, believed the injury was very serious, and Kase was frankly amazed when Morris cut off the cast.

``I know because I was there when he broke it and saw how much pain he was in,'' Kase said. ``I was sure he wouldn't be able to play. If that was a football injury, he wouldn't play, either. But it sure was inspirational for us when he came back.''

Unfortunately, despite Morris' best intentions, he simply couldn't contribute full time with one hand. Without him playing his usual 25 minutes per game, Hart lacked depth in the post and was eliminated at home in the first round of the playoffs by unseeded Chaparral of Temecula.

Now Morris' injury might further interfere with his career plans. He has said his goal is to be the lead singer and guitarist for a punk rock band - but first he must wait until the hand heals.

``Actually, I mess around on the guitar a little bit, but it's really nothing serious,'' he said. ``I don't know what I'm going to eventually do.''

Khajavi said he joined Morris and a couple of other teammates in an unofficial punk band - but Khajavi said Morris was the only one who had any talent, so the project never got off the ground.

``Andrew can sing, but the rest of us are pretty bad,'' Khajavi said.

Meanwhile, coach Kelly believes Morris should not let go of his rock 'n' roll dreams.

``Actually, he has just the kind of attitude to be a great punk rock singer,'' Kelly said. ``He might be just crazy enough to pull it off.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Andrew Morris broke his hand in January, supposedly ending his season, but he cut off the cast and played in Hart's league-clinching victory.

David Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 9, 2003
Words:640
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