As the high school basketball season inches toward region play, the Morgan boys’ and girls’ teams are discovering little things that need improvement before the games start counting for real. For the boys, it’s a recognition that they need to do a better job of maintaining their composure down the stretch in a tight game. For the girls, it’s a regaining of confidence after a month of road games that included a winless pre-Christmas trip to Phoenix.
The boys went 1-1 last week, including a 66-61 overtime loss to Maple Mountain on Dec. 20 and a 61-46 win over Uintah on Dec. 21.
Against Maple Mountain, a 5A school from Spanish Fork, the Trojans came all the way back from a 10-point third quarter deficit to take a five-point lead late in the fourth. All Morgan had to do at that point was control the ball and the clock, take smart shots, and play solid defense. Unfortunately, none of those things happened when it mattered most.
In the last two minutes of regulation, the Trojans fumbled the ball away at least twice and gave up two 3-pointers to Maple Mountain’s Marcus Krommenhoek, including the game-tying shot with less than 15 seconds left to play.
The Trojans had a chance to win it in regulation, but were unable to even get a shot off. Morgan’s leading scorer Cade Russell was swarmed under by Maple Mountain’s defense at the top of the key, preventing him from even passing the ball, let alone get a shot off.
The overtime period wasn’t much better for the Trojans, who were unable to stop the Golden Eagles’ momentum.
For MHS coach Brad Matthews, the loss was frustrating. He was especially annoyed with his players rushing things at the end of the fourth quarter when what they really needed to do was slow it down.
“Believe me, they heard about that,” Matthews said. “We talked about composure, taking good shots, and not turning the ball over because that’s all we did with that five-point lead. You just can’t do that against a team like that. We just gave (Maple Mountain) chance after chance because we weren’t patient and weren’t taking care of the ball. That was frustrating because we had that game won.”
Russell led the Trojans with 21 points, while Trey Miles added 14. Caleb Calderwood had eight points before fouling out late in the second half. The loss snapped Morgan’s seven-game winning streak.
To the Trojans’ credit, they went on the road the very next day and put the Maple Mountain game behind them, knocking off Uintah by 15 points. This time, the Trojans (8-2 overall) were money down the stretch, outscoring the Utes by nine points in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Cade Russell led the charge against the Utes with 19 points, while Trey Miles and Stetson Anderson added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
What the Lady Trojans need right now is a win to help them regain the confidence they had at the beginning of the month.
After three straight victories against Davis, Ogden and North Summit early in December, the Trojans traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, for the Nike Tournament of Champions from Dec. 19-22. While just competing in such a tournament is a privilege, the Trojans were hoping for a much better showing than what they gave. It should probably be noted that the competition at the Nike tournament was significantly stronger than what the Trojans will likely face in Region 13 this year. But four consecutive losses can mess with a team’s confidence.
In their first game, the Trojans suffered a beatdown at the hands of Esperanza (Calif.) High School, 61-23. Game 2, against Warren (Calif.) was much closer, but still a loss, 48-44.
On Dec. 21, the Trojans battled Omaha Northwest (Neb.). In that contest, a slow start doomed the Trojans, who ended up losing by 17, 55-38. Finally, on Friday, the Trojans fell 68-40 to ThunderRidge High School, a tough 5A team out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
The Lady Trojans (4-6 overall) have one more road game this month – at new Cache Valley school Green Canyon – before finally returning home on Friday.
The boys and girls will both play at home tonight in the one and only double-header of the season. The girls will face off against Union at 5 p.m., and the boys’ game will follow at 7 p.m. against Tooele. Region play starts in about 10 days for both teams.