MORGAN — If there was any question about who's the best boys basketball team in Region 10, and very possibly the state's 3A ranks, well, defending state champion Morgan High made a mighty strong statement Tuesday night.
The Trojans trounced a solid Juan Diego squad, 76-60, for their seventh straight win and 12th victory in their last 13 games.
In the process, Morgan made it known — loud and clear — that this year's team has its sights set squarely on taking another region title and, it hopes, a second straight state championship as well.
"That was a huge game," said Trojans senior guard Garren Miles, who led the way with a team-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers. "That was for the region championship pretty much, and I thought we made a pretty big statement.
"We came in and I was nervous; I was trying to get pumped up and go out there and play guard, and we did really good. I thought our defense on (Gabe) Colosimo was definitely the key; we did really good on him, stopping him. We held him to like five points.
"Our bench is pretty good," Miles said. "All of our seniors can really shoot the ball really good, so when Jordan (Nelson) comes off the bench, he hit his shots and everyone's just really good at hitting shots."
Hunter Stanford added 12 points, Hayden Garfield chipped in with 11, and Matt Murdock was also in double digits for Morgan with 10, while Nelson netted eight and Ben Saunders scored seven more for the Trojans (12-6, 4-0 Region 10).
For Juan Diego, Connor Fulton scored a game-high 23 points on the strength of six 3-pointers, while Dominic Colosimo added 10 and Zach Nickles had nine for the Soaring Eagle (14-4, 3-1), who saw their six-game winning streak snapped.
"We knew they were a good team," Murdock said. "I thought we just played team defense and we shared the ball. Everyone stepped up and it was a good win.
"Our bench is really good. We push 'em in practice and they push us, so it's just a team effort every day.
"We prepared like it was the state championship, so we were focused. ... I think we need to stay humble, though," he said. "It's gonna be a different ballgame down at Juan Diego, and we've got to focus on each game one at a time."
"The kids played real hard," Morgan coach Jim Wiscombe said. "Defensively, I thought we took 'em out of it, and Gabe didn't shoot as well as he usually shoots. He's probably the leading scorer in 3A, but if he's not on ... he could be sick or something — they have a tough time being a good team if he's not on. But our defense was the key, definitely.
"We've got some depth. We had some kids injured early in the season, so a lot of guys got playing time and that's helped them.
"I think on our home court, we're gonna be hard to beat," he said. "On the road, it's a different story. At their place (in the region rematch on Feb. 14 at Juan Diego), they'll be ready."
Miles and Bobby Cluff led Morgan to a 16-8 lead at the first stop, and Nickles' inside scoring was the only thing that prevented the Trojans from pulling away.Comment on this story
That happened in the second quarter, though, with Miles, Garfield, Nelson and Saunders doing most of the damage. They combined for 19 of Morgan's 21 second-period points as the Trojans opened up a 17-point halftime lead, 37-20.
Juan Diego slashed the deficit to 10 early in the third quarter on an 11-0 run fueled by back-to-back 3s by Fulton. But Morgan immediately responded, as Miles and Stanford ignited an 18-6 run that pushed the Trojans' margin back out to 22, 59-37, entering the fourth quarter.
Morgan led by as much as 26 in the final frame before missing four of its final five foul shots, and Juan Diego finished with a 16-6 flourish to close the gap at the end.