You know it's a good night for your basketball team when even the crowd gets in on the act. That's how things shaped up for Morgan Friday night as it beat the visiting Richfield Wildcats 77-30 in the opening round of the state 3A playoffs.
Employing their customary blistering pressure defense, Morgan kicked off the game by running out to an early 17-4 lead. Led by seniors Rashel Blazzard (eight points) and Lisa VanCampen (six points) the Trojans seldom allowed the ’Cats to get past midcourt, and led after the first period 23-5.
The onslaught continued through the second quarter, where Morgan outscored Richfield by a nearly identical score as the first period, 25-10. With the 48-10 halftime lead, the competitive phase of the game was over and Morgan was left to work on various offensive sets in preparation for next week's 3A tournament in Cedar City.
Even though the effort by the Trojan players was impressive, the biggest crowd cheer of the night was when Morgan resident Tucker Jensen attempted a half-court shot that drew nothing but net, winning Jensen $500 from a local car dealer.
This game is the second time Richfield has visited this season. In the first game, Morgan came away with a tough 62-53 win, Morgan's lowest point total of the season. "Our goal tonight was to come out and get right after it," said coach Brad Matthews. "We've worked not only on our defense, but also on putting on offensive pressure in transition. "We did a great job."
The primary difference between the previous game and Friday night, said Matthews, is adjustments. "To their credit, they didn't have their point guard," said Matthews. "But we really made good adjustments to what we felt they were going to do, and it worked out well for us."
Blazzard, a senior captain playing her last game at Morgan, agreed. "The biggest difference was we put in a lot of work on our defensive press."
After the domination of the first half, Morgan seemed to be a little flat coming out of the locker room. Having called off their pressure in the full court, the Trojans allowed Richfield to be more active on the offensive end. The ’Cats were able to put 17 points on the board during the third stanza, more than the rest of the game combined.
However, after a thorough reminder of the necessity to play all four quarters by their coaches during the quarter break, the Trojans held Richfield to just three points the rest of the way to finish out the game.
Morgan was led by Blazzard's 29 points, which included five 3-pointers. VanCampen added 10 points to go along with her seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Morgan's third senior, Brea Hurlbut, chipped in seven boards as well, with eight points. Blazzard and Alli Tonks each had five assists.
Richfield was led by Aspen Shumway's seven points.
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Next up for Morgan is Stansbury in the quarterfinals of the 3A tournament next week at Southern Utah University. "We play well as a team and we're confident, which is a recipe for success," said Matthews. Hurlbut agrees with that assessment. "I love our team chemistry," she said. "We are selfless and yet so confident. We are ready to come out with a boom" at state. VanCampen added, "We are just going to play our game and head into state as ready as ever."
Morgan vs. Stansbury will tip off Thursday at 9:10 p.m.
Chris VanCampen is a graduate of the University of Utah and Santa Clara Law School and practices law in Heber, is a father of four, an avid fly-fisherman, and announcer of many Morgan High School sports events. Email him at: email@example.com.