Wow, what a game! Morgan fans got their moneys worth last Friday night as the Trojans took on the Desert Hills Thunder in the state 3A semifinals. There was never a dull moment from tip off to final buzzer.
Back and fourth it went, every time Morgan hit a shot Desert Hills had an answer. Tad Sargent scored the first 4 points for Morgan, hitting down low on a pass from Brooks and then winning a loss ball battle to put in 2 more.
Casey Evans was whistled for two early fouls. The first as Desert Hills was making a basket, creating a 3 point play. The second was a somewhat controversial offensive charging call. Non the less, Morgan supporters found themselves a little concerned about #4 early in the game.
The Thunder nailed a 3 point shot to take their first lead of the game, 4-6. Saunders pulled up and drained a long 2, then it was Brooks for 3, Schenk for 3 and Evans in lane after stealing a Thunder pass. Desert Hills would not be deterred, knocking down shots of their own, hitting free throws and then a big dunk to tie the game at 15 apiece. Morgan maintained focus and continued to make shots, but Desert Hills had no intensions of falling behind. After one, it was the Morgan Trojans 21 Desert Hills Thunder 19.
Both teams looked intense as they took the floor for the second quarter. The first quarter proved to be a battle and the players appeared poised for more of the same.
It was sophomore #21 Jack Miles who got things rolling for the Trojans in the second. Miles hit two shots underneath one on a pass from Sargent the other on a pass from Brooks. Their was some scuffling under the hoop as Miles hit his second shot of the quarter and Desert Hills was whistled for a technical foul. This sent the Trojans to the line for three foul shots. Again it was the young #21 scoring points. Jack hit 3 of 3 from the line and gave the Trojans a 28-19 lead early in the second quarter.
The two teams battled it out for the next few minutes. Matching miss for miss and make for make. Desert Hills worked to get some open 3 point shots but were unable to convert. The Trojans were right there to grab the rebounds.
Nearing the end of the half Morgan had a ten point lead, 37-27. But the Thunder put together a little rally, drawing fouls and hitting at the line. Desert Hills also played some excellent defense to end the second quarter and pulled within 3 points at half time. It was Morgan 37 Desert Hills 34.
The Morgan boys have had their struggles during third quarters this season. Some fans even eluding to a possible curse. I caught up with Brooks after the game and asked him what strategies if any were discussed at half time concerning the third quarter. He informed me that it was more a matter of just staying focused. “We knew we had to get back faster on defense, but mostly we just tried to stay focused” said Brooks.
It was good old fashioned hard nosed basketball to start the second half. Each team looked determined to come away victorious.
After ending the first half strongly, Desert Hills came out firing. They hit two shots in the lane and knocked down a long jump shot. Morgan hit two buckets as well but two minutes into the third quarter the Thunder had a 1 point lead.
Groans of concern were heard amongst the Morgan fans. The student section just seemed to get louder however sacrificing vocal chords and banding together as a single unit to cheer on their team.
Morgan took the lead back as Evans zeroed in from beyond the arc. Boston Saunders battled hard under the hoop, grabbing three offensive rebounds on one possession before he was fouled and sent to the line. He hit 2 for 2 and gave the Trojans a four point lead.
Another dunk for Desert Hills brought it back within 2. Tad found Evans who hit a shot in the lane and then it was Brooks to Schenk underneath to extend the lead to 6.
Schenk was able to put in 2 more, this time following suit of his teammate Saunders, battling for offensive rebounds and scoring down low. Desert Hills called a time out with 2:18 left in the third to regroup.
Morgan had an 8 point lead, 52-44. Tight “D” from both sides ended the third quarter. Only 6 points were scored in the last two minutes, 2 for Morgan and 4 for Desert Hills. The Trojans survived the third quarter, out scoring the Thunder by 3 points and taking a 54-48 lead into the fourth.
Jared Brooks got the crowd going with a big block to start the final quarter. Schenk found himself at the line, hitting 2 for 2 and keeping the momentum going for the Trojans. Brooks found the hoop on a short jumper to give Morgan a 10 point lead early in the fourth.
Desert Hills began hitting shots as well and playing full court press defense. For several minutes it was an intense display of two teams who had worked so hard all year laying it all on the line! Try as they might the Thunder could not Crack the Trojan spirit. Desert Hills was forced to start fouling Morgan to conserve the little time they had left. But that’s not all, the thunder also began raining, 3’s that is.
With 13 seconds left in the game the Trojans only lead by for points. Desert Hills again had to send Morgan to the line where they had been solid all night. In the end a good shooting performance from the Trojans along with 18 team assists and only 7 turnovers helped Morgan to top Desert Hills 86 to 81.
After the game Dalin Schenk gave Desert Hills props for being “one of the best teams we’ve faced all year.” Morgan advanced to the title game for the first time in ten years where they met the returning champs, the Wasatch Wasps. See that story on the front page of this issue.