OGDEN — No. 1 Morgan looked every bit the part of 3A state tournament favorite Thursday afternoon at the Dee Events Center.
It shot well, rebounded well and defended well, a winning formula throughout the regular season that was once again more than enough in the playoffs as Morgan pulled away from Cedar in the second half for a 69-57 quarterfinal victory.
With the game tied 45-45 midway through the third quarter, the Trojans took over the rest of the way outscoring Cedar 24-12.
Balanced scoring was the key all game and particularly in the fourth quarter.
Defensively Cedar did a great job on 3A leading scorer Jake Miles, holding him to 16 points, nine below his season average, but Miles’ teammates were sensational picking up the slack.
“Our whole team played really well tonight. We knew coming into the tournament all the work couldn’t go on me. We’re a very talented team. We knew if everybody chipped in and played well we’d get the W,” said Miles.
Morgan coach Jim Wiscombe said the extra attention Miles received defensively paved the way for everyone around him to have great games, and he knows that’s just fine with his leading scorer.
“All Jake wants to do to win. We need to have him score 'cause he’s a great scorer, but when it comes to the bottom line he just wants to win, and he’d do anything for this team to win,” said Wiscombe.
Morgan advances to Friday’s semifinals and will face Wasatch at 9:10 p.m.
Despite Cedar’s obvious size advantage in the paint, Wiscombe was confident Morgan’s athleticism would win out eventually, and it finally started to in the third quarter.
After Cedar opened the second half on a 15-8 run to tie the game at 45-45 with 3:38 remaining in the third, the Trojans’ pressure defense finally started to wear on Cedar. They forced Cedar into four turnovers in its next five possessions, ending the quarter on an 11-0 run.
“I think we got some easy baskets, and that’s one thing this team can do: kick it up and advance to some easy baskets. Their bigs didn’t get back a couple times and we were making layups,” said Wiscombe.
Cedar never recovered as Morgan finished with a decided 21-4 edge in points off turnovers.
Morgan always seemed the more comfortable team at the Dee Events Center as it shot 57 percent compared to 42 for Cedar, and afterward Wiscombe had a pretty good idea why.
“I’m just glad we got to sleep in our beds last night and they had to travel this year,” said Wiscombe.
Dustin Staggs led Cedar with 18 points in the loss.