It took four sometimes frustrating years, but Morgan’s boys’ basketball team is at the head of the class once again.
With a 50-36 win over South Summit on Jan. 31, the Trojans captured their first region championship since the 2013-14 season. And they did it without leading scorer Cade Russell and leading bench scorer Stetson Anderson, neither of whom were available against the Wildcats.
“These kids played with a lot of heart tonight,” Morgan coach Brad Matthews said. “They’ve played well all year, but not having Cade and Stetson, for them to come out and play like they did was fun to watch. Seth Hadley came in and had a great game. So did Carson Ordyna, Adam Buck, Bowen Saunders, Sam Hansen. They gave us just enough. They did exactly what they needed to do. They just stepped up. It was fun to be a part of.”
Although played at a slower pace than most of Morgan’s games, it was no less exciting, particularly with the region title on the line. Perhaps no play was as electrifying as the one made by Laine Carter at the end of the third quarter.
With the Trojans up by 10 and the clock winding down, Carter got the ball just outside the 3-point line in front of Morgan’s student section. Defending Carter was South Summit’s Jared Dansie. As Cater held the ball, Dansie took a quick swipe and inadvertently poked Carter straight in the nose. Carter immediately reached up to try and stop the sudden bleeding. Once the referee blew his whistle to signal a foul on Dansie, Carter sprinted to the locker room to take care of the injury.
While officials and even cheerleaders worked to clean up the blood on the floor, team trainers worked on Carter. By the time play was ready to resume, Carter was ready to go.
Once again, with the clock winding down, Carter got the ball in almost exactly the same spot on the floor. Despite a nose full of cotton, he launched a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net with only a few ticks left on the third quarter clock.
Carter led all scorers with 16 points, while teammate Trey Miles added 15. Tyson Hurd finished with 10 points, including a huge momentum-shifting 3-pointer from the top of the key in the second half.
Hurd knew his offense was important, but he credited the team’s defense for the win.
“The main thing was defense and rebounding,” Hurd said. “If we could keep them off the boards, then we were going to win that game, and that’s what we did.”
Hurd, who was also on MHS’s region champion football team this year, is happy to finally see some success again on the basketball court after a few lean years.
“This is huge,” he said. “We haven’t had a winning season in a while. It was crazy fun to come out here and finally get that region (title) that we haven’t had in three or four years. It was a really good win tonight.”
Two nights later, the Trojans traveled to Grantsville and won again – this time a 60-39 victory to give Morgan a 7-0 mark in Region 13 play with just one game to go. The Trojans are 18-2 overall and have won 11 consecutive games.
With a region title under their belts, the Trojans look forward to one last home game tonight against Judge Memorial. It’s also Senior Night and White-Out. Fans will have one last opportunity to watch the Trojans on their home court and are encouraged to wear white to the game. The team will also give out a couple hundred free t-shirts.
Morgan will enter next Saturday’s 3A play-in tournament at Wasatch High School as the No. 1 seed from Region 13. They’ll play the No. 6 seed out of Region 15 – most likely North Sanpete or Richfield. If they win, the Trojans will advance to the 3A tournament, which will be held at Dixie State on Feb. 22-24.
“I give it all to those boys,” Matthews said of the region championship. “It feels good, but the reason it feels good is because they’re so excited. This is unchartered territory for them. Every game, they’re just excited to win.”