The girls’ 3A inter-region play-in basketball games (i.e. the first round of the playoffs) were held last Friday at Wasatch High School. And to be honest, most of the games were dreadfully boring. The day included a 28-point win by Grantsville over Manti, a 72-22 blowout by Richfield against American Leadership Academy, and a 62-point demolishing of Providence Hall by Emery.
One of the only games actually worth sitting through was the one between Morgan and Delta. The Trojans won by 13 points, 52-39, but Delta at least made a game of it.
The game also included a bizarre incident in which a Delta fan physically attacked the Rabbits’ head coach during the middle of a timeout in the second quarter. More about that in a moment. But first, the game.
After a bit of a slow start, the Trojans ramped it up in the second quarter, outscoring the Rabbits 18-4 in the period to take a 28-13 halftime lead.
“It was actually fun,” Morgan coach Kade Morrell said. “The girls executed our game plan the best they’ve done all year. They stayed in their positions and they kept their spacing. We made a good run right there in that second quarter.
“We had our plan about how to guard their team and it worked,” Morrell added. “The girls stayed disciplined and worked real hard as a team. I was proud of their efforts.”
Delta’s methodical style of play – the Rabbits have scored 50 points in a game only twice since the calendar turned to 2018 – prevented the Trojans from pulling too far away in the second half. Fortunately, the Trojans’ smothering defense kept Delta from making a serious run.
Morgan Cragun led the Trojans with 10 points, while Marcie Stapley added eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Kayden Jorgensen was impressive off the bench with seven points, including a 3-pointer.
With the win, the Trojans (13-10 overall) advance to this weekend’s 3A tournament at Dixie State University in St. George. Their reward for beating Delta is a quarterfinal matchup with Richfield on Thursday night at 9:10 p.m. The Wildcats looked very impressive in its first-round win. In their 50-point thrashing of ALA, the Wildcats led 55-7 at halftime and didn’t play a single starter in the second half.
Many people have already anointed Richfield and Emery as the two teams that will advance to Saturday’s state championship game, and it’s hard to argue against them. Even Morrell knows that the Trojans will be big underdogs against Richfield (20-2), but the Trojans are substantially better than American Leadership and should give the Wildcats a good game.
“Richfield is a great team,” Morrell said. “But all the pressure’s on them. They’re the ones that are supposed to hold court, so we’re just going to go and have fun and hope it comes out all right. Being the underdog is not our usual place, but we’ll take it because that takes a lot of pressure off our girls. Now they can just go out and play basketball.”
Should the Trojans win on Thursday, they will play in the semifinals at 4:10 p.m. on Friday. If they lose to Richfield, they’ll drop into the consolation bracket and will play on Friday morning at 11:10 a.m.
The girls’ state championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
As for the crazy timeout situation mentioned earlier, it’s unknown who the fan was or even what set him off. But as the Trojans started pulling away, Delta coach Clint Peterson signaled for a timeout to settle his team down. At some point during the timeout, the unidentified fan marched down the bleachers straight into the Delta huddle and went after Peterson, putting him into a headlock and dragging him to the floor. Three other Delta fans raced over to pull the man off of Peterson. Before any kind of security could arrive, the fans had scooted the unruly man off the court and out the door.
Judging by comments heard after the game, most people on the Morgan side of the bleachers didn’t see the exchange at all. The referees held up the game for a few moments to ensure that Peterson was okay to continue, and the remainder of the game went on as if nothing had happened, though Peterson was clearly shaken by the incident.