MORGAN — The last time second-ranked Morgan and Juan Diego met on Jan. 18 in Draper, the Trojans beat the Soaring Eagle by a whopping 54 points.
Tuesday night, the Soaring Eagle used a different tactic in an attempt to keep the game close. Juan Diego accomplished the feat, but still lost the contest 48-25 to heavily favored Morgan in Region 11 basketball action.
Five-foot-five-inch Morgan point guard Becca Rees didn't let the slow-down tactics affect her shooting, hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field en route to a game-high 15 points.
Rees found her hot spot from the left side of the 3-point arc, hitting 3 of 3 from virtually the same spot to lead the Trojans in scoring.
"I felt pretty good tonight,” she said. “My last game I couldn't buy a shot, but tonight I felt really good."
Morgan coach Brad Matthews agreed.
"Becca had a great game, and it's fun watching her shoot the ball,” he said. “I thought she played great defense today, cutting her girl off on the drive."
Rees was forced to wear a bulky knee brace after completely tearing her ACL in December in the 2A-3A shootout against Richfield. After a few short weeks of rehab on her left knee, Rees is back playing as good as ever.
"It shows you how tough she is," Matthews said.
Other than Morgan’s opening 20-4 blitz in the first quarter, it was an evenly played game with the Trojans unable to go on another huge scoring run like they have done against the rest of their region opponents.
Offensively, Juan Diego’s patient passing attack limited the ability of high-scoring Morgan to get in any type of rhythm offensively. On a few possessions, Juan Diego passed the ball around the perimeter for a good one- to two-minute stretch, hoping to catch the Trojans napping on defense or hoping they would get careless, become too aggressive defensively and foul.
Matthews thought that while the strategy was effective, his squad also missed plenty of opportunities to score.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well after the first quarter,” he said. “We missed a lot of shots inside that we normally make, and that really took us out of our offense, too."
Soaring Eagle coach Ashlee McKray knew it would be tough to pull out a win in Morgan on "Senior Night,” but was pleased with her squad's effort to make Morgan work hard for the victory.
“We tried to limit their touches and also limit our turnovers,” she said. “It was a much better outcome tonight."
Behind Rees, Ashley “Spud” Garfield had a quiet night with 12 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks, while Kelsey Henry added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.
Camille Tua paced the Soaring Eagle with 14 points.
The Soaring Eagle (7-11, 3-5) is still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but it needs a win over Ben Lomond (9-10, 4-5) on Thursday night to make it happen. Morgan (17-3, 9-0) needs a win over Bear River (11-6, 6-1) Thursday night in Tremonton to lock up the top seed from Region 11.
"We have to go into Bear River and that's for the region championship,” Matthews said. “No matter what we have done before and no matter how far we've won by, we gotta go to Bear River and win to be the outright champion and go into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed."
Bill Bateman enjoys covering the Morgan Trojans for the Morgan County News.