By Eric Hatch
It’s that time of year for high school hoops players, win or report to your spring sports coach. Last Friday our Trojan Boys showed they would like to keep it indoors for a few more games!
I had a chance to catch up with coach Jim Wiscombe on Thursday before the game. We discussed briefly the Region 11 champs season and how the team is feeling as they move into the state playoffs.
Coach Wiscombe told me that “it’s been a great year with great support from the community.” What’s the difference between this team and teams past, I asked. “These guys have great chemistry, they get along well and they really play team ball” said Wiscombe.
I pried into the touchy topic of a state title, Coach Wiscombe informed me that it was 1974 the last time the Trojans held that trophy. I asked him if he liked the teams chances here in 2011. Wiscombe replied “it’s a really tough year, there are a lot of good teams. I could potentially see eight different teams vying for the title, depending on who catches a roll. But out of those eight teams ours is definitely one of them.” How big is home court advantage in this first round game I asked the coach. “It’s huge! Manti has to make the long drive, and I’m really hoping our home town crowd provides a hostile environment” Wiscombe replied. As we wrapped up our conversation Coach Wiscombe informed me that “all the guys are healthy and the team seems to be flowing,” a relief to any coach when heading into the playoffs.
Come Friday night, indeed the boys did look healthy and flowing! And that hostile environment? Wish granted! Good work student section, rock’n band, parents and alumni. In the early minutes of the game, both teams seemed to have some jitter bugs to work out. Morgan missed on their first few possessions and the Templers passing seemed less then crisp. It was Dallin Schenk who got things rolling, hitting on a long two pointer. Manti answered right back by knocking down a three and creating a steal which lead to a bucket plus foul shot. It was two to six in favor of the Templers. Big man Boston Saunders found himself in early foul trouble and was forced to take a seat. Down a starter and behind by four, the Trojans dug in and turned the situation around quickly. A rebound put back by Casey Evans coupled with an Evans shot block turned Trojan allioop layup at the other end tied the game. Schenk found his way to the line and hit both free throws to give the Trojans an 8 to 6 lead. The Trojans continued this trend throughout the first quarter, creating turnovers, winning on the boards and hitting shots. At the end of one it was Morgan 18, Manti 10.
The sixth man (Morgan High student body) kept the energy high during the break by dancing in the stands to a rousing rendition of “Tequila” played by our Morgan High Pep Band. Unfortunately this actually seemed to excite the Templers, which I found Ironic. Manti converted a turnover and three missed Morgan shots into scoring opportunities. Before we knew it, the Templers had taken the lead 21 to 18. The Trojans put their starting five back on the floor but again Saunders was whistled for a foul and found himself playing fan again. Number 44 Jed Rowlan checked in for Saunders and snapped the Templers scoring streak with a bucket underneath. Shank converted another 2 pointer off of a Trojan steal which gave Morgan a lead they would not relinquish. Tad Sargent chimed in by grabbing a couple steals and finishing strong on the fast break. A second quarter scare was avoided as the Trojans turned on the “D” and ran the floor well. Evans knocked down a three to end the quarter, giving Morgan a 33 to 26 lead at the half.
Oh to be a fly on the wall during a coaches half time speech. I did not get this opportunity, but after watching the Trojans performance in the third quarter I assume it must have been pretty good.
Manti did score a quick bucket to start the third, but this would not happen again for the Templers until the end of the quarter. Instead it was the Trojans putting on a clinic, teaching the community the valuable lessons of team work and tenacious defense. Creating turnovers, grabbing rebounds and passing the ball; Morgan went a 21 point scoring spree to extend their lead to 54 to 28.
With 1:21 remaining in the third, Manti finally came up for air and was able to knock down a couple of shots. The third quarter ended with the Trojans on top 56 to 34.
The Trojans carried this momentum into the fourth. Seven different Morgan players combined to outscore Manti 25 to 16 in the final quarter. Morgan kept up the tough defense as well. They ended the game with 17 team steals, 4 from Saunders despite fouling out. Tad Sargent lead the Trojans with 6 assists and served up some sweet dishes, to several players, during that third quarter thwarting. Casey Evans was high scorer with 22 points, he also added 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and a blocked shot. Jared Brooks and Dallin Schenk also had solid performances. Brooks scored 17 points and shot 8 for 13 from the field. Schenk lead the Trojans with 10 rebounds and added 15 points to the Trojans total of 81. Morgan held Manti to 50 points, handing the Templers a season ending 31 point loss.
I was able to catch up with the starting five after the game (Evans, Brooks, Schenk, Saunders and Sargent). Each one of them said it felt good to get a win and be moving forward to the second round.
All five players cited defense as the key to continued success during these state playoffs. “ I love my teammates, we’re playing great together and we seem to be peaking at the right moment” said Brooks.
The other four guys shared his sentiment almost verbatim. Coach Wiscombe commended the boys on a good game and felt like the team is on track for this coming weekend.
Principal Wade Murdock was also pleased with the Trojans performance. “ I’m so proud of our kids, the boys and girls have shown they are willing to work to achieve their goals all year. Hard work is a Morgan tradition and it’s fun to watch our boys and girls keep that alive,” said Principal Murdock.
The Trojan boys will face Richfield at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 24 at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. A win against Richfield will put them in the semifinals tonight (Friday) at 7:30 p.m.. If the boys lose to Richfield they will play in the consolation bracket today (Friday) at 4:10 p.m.
If Morgan wins Friday in the winners bracket they will play again on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the state championship. See the schedule in this issue.
Don’t forget to come out and support our boys this weekend at the Huntsman Center.
Editors Note: See playoff Schedule on next page.