The Morgan Lady Trojans entered the State playoffs last week riding a 13 game winning streak after winning their initial first round game vs. North Sanpete by a whopping 51 points. All signs pointed to a strong run to the 3A championship, or at least getting to the championship game and letting the chips fall where they may.
But it wasn’t to be, as the Trojans ran into a tough Emery squad out of region 12, losing their first game on the University of Utah floor by a score of 57-50.
The first quarter found the Trojans doing their thing, creating turnovers and running the floor for layups. After freshman guard Rashel Blazzard hit a long 3 from the left side midway through the first quarter, Morgan lead 11-6. But Emery would close out the first on an 8-0 run to lead 14-11 at the end of the quarter.
While they were able to create turnovers on the defensive end, the Trojans themselves had their fair share of turnovers on the offensive end. They came in a variety of ways: bad passes, dropped or fumbled passes, traveling violations, and offensive fouls. Just when they Trojans would pull ahead, a dreaded turnover (or two) would occur and allow Emery to stay in the game. Taking care of the ball was a definite strength of the team during the regular season, but it would be their downfall in this game.
The Trojans hung tough in the second quarter behind senior Ashley Garfield’s 8 first half points, and three point bombs by senior starters Becca Rees and Shaelee Pentz. Following a three from the top of the key by Rees with one minute remaining, the Trojans were up 28-25. However a Trojan turnover would allow the Emery squad to score the last 5 points of the quarter, including a 3 point bomb with .8 seconds left in the quarter on a quick shot off of an out-of-bounds play by Emery’s Jessica Murray, to give Emery a two point lead at 30-28.
The third quarter found the Trojans taking better care of the ball, and it showed as they outscored Emery 14-7. The Emery squad was not going to allow 3A’s second leading scorer Garfield to take over the game, as they would double and triple team her in the high post. Garfield was able to find junior 6’0” center Kelsey Henry for some back door cuts and drives to the hoop, and Rees added two long “3’s” to boost the Trojans out to a 42-37 lead.
But disaster struck in the fourth, as the Trojan’s played one of their worst quarters of the year. The Trojans would get outscored 11-2 in the first 4 minutes of the quarter to fall behind 48-44. Senior Rachael Johnson would knock down 4 consecutive free throws to keep Morgan close at 52-48 with one minute left, but the Trojans were forced to foul to get the ball back. Emery would knock down 5 free throws in the last minute to dash the championship hopes of the Trojan squad and secure the 57-50 win.
The Trojans would shoot 16-40 (40%) from the field, compared to 18-41 (43.9%) for Emery. The Trojans knocked down 6-13 from 3 point land, and hit 12-12 from the free throw line compared to Emery’s 17-25. Morgan had 21 turnovers, compared to 18 for Emery, but out rebounded Emery 24-16, including 7-5 on the offensive end.
Garfield and Rees both scored 12 points to lead Morgan. Garfield added 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocked shots, while Rees hit 4 out of 9 three pointers, and dished for 4 assists. Henry would add 10 points including 6-6 from the free throw line, and 3 rebounds.
The Trojans played Canyon View on Friday morning in a consolation game, and while playing better overall, they could not put one of their dominating runs together against Canyon View defense. Morgan fell behind after the first quarter by 7 points at 13-6 and could never quite get over the hump the rest of the game. They would outscore Canyon View 12-9 in the second quarter to close to within 4 at 22-18 at the half.
Uncharacteristically poor shooting (13-42, 31%) from the field kept the Trojans playing catch-up. Ashley (Spud) Garfield nearly brought the Trojans back in the 4th quarter, aided by some nice coast to coast layups through the Canyon View defense. Spud also hit 17-19 free throws for the game and added 10 rebounds, but the Trojans would end up on the short end of the score at 55-51.
The stats would show Morgans poor shooting from the 3 point line (1-11),and the team passed off for a season low 5 assists on their 13 field goals. However,they were hot from the free throw line, knocking down 24-29, and also out-rebounded their opponents 22-20. They committed double the turnovers with 12 compared to Canyon views 6.
In addition to Garfield, Kelsy Henry added 7 points, and senior Chelsey Stegelmeier added 6 points and 3 boards.
While the Lady Trojans were forced to come home empty handed and with out the illusive state championship, the squad played with class, grit, determination and outstanding sportsmanship during the season. Congratulations for an outstanding year (19 wins to 5 losses) to the team, with special thanks to the 6 out-going seniors: Becca Rees, Ashley Garfield, Chelsey Stegelmeier, Shaelee Pentz, A.J. Bateman, and Rachael Johnson.