SALT LAKE CITY — Over the last three or four years, the Morgan Trojans and Judge Memorial Bulldogs have staged some epic battles on the court with tough defense and great outside shooting, with several games have gone down to the wire.
This year’s first installment between the Region 11 foes did not follow that pattern with Morgan taking control of the game in the second quarter and finishing with a huge 60-29 victory in prep girl’s basketball action Tuesday night over a young Judge squad.
“It's good when we get some assists on our shots,” Morgan coach Brad Matthews said. “Defensively, we made it tough for them to make shots. (It was) a great defensive effort for us."
Both teams came out of the gate in the first quarter struggling to find their offensive rhythm. Morgan senior forward Racheal Johnson scored the first six points of the game to stake the Trojans out to a 6-2 lead midway through the quarter.
Judge harassed Morgan’s leading scorer and BYU-bound Ashley Garfield during the quarter by limiting her touches. She picked up two offensive fouls with three minutes left to play in the first. Despite the defensive pressure, she nailed a 3-pointer from the left side to increase Morgan’s lead to 10 at 14-4 at the end of the first.
The Bulldogs continued their defensive intensity in the second quarter, giving the Trojans only a few easy looks at the basket. However, it was the Bulldogs' shooting suffered because they were unable to work the ball inside against the taller Morgan squad. Judge was fairly successful at the drive-and-kick to open shooters at the 3-point line, but the Bulldogs were unable to connect on a high enough percentage from behind the arc to keep the game close.
At the half, Johnson led the Trojans with 11 points, while Garfield had seven while opening up a 31-9 lead.
"Our problem has been that we can't score,” said Bulldog coach Matt Mapstone. “We want to run and try to push the ball and then take the 3 if need be. If you're not making shots against Morgan, there's no way you're gonna win. That's a very, very good team, well coached. We are really young, and more than anything, really inexperienced."
In the second half, it was more of the same. The Bulldogs were unable to consistently get to the basket and were forced to take a lot of outside shots, allowing the Trojans to build on their 22-point halftime lead.
For the game, the Bulldogs connected on only 12-of-50 shots from the field, including 4-of-18 from 3-point range.
Garfield and Johnson recorded double-doubles: Garfield tallied 14 points, 11 boards, four assists and three steals, while Johnson added 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
"We played as a team, like we've been practicing,” said Morgan senior point guard Becca Rees, who recently returned from a knee injury that occurred in the 2A-3A Shootout in Richfield in December. “Our defense was awesome, we were able to shut down their inside game."
Sydney Richards led the Bulldogs with 12 points, while Kaile Quinn added nine points and three rebounds.
Bill Bateman is the father of five daughters, and spends a lot of time at high school sporting events. He covers the local sports for the Morgan County News.