Utah 3A boys' basketball: Morgan beats Cedar 59-45 for second straight title
Cedar City • In an era in which basketball teams seem to need one or two stars to be taken seriously, consider the boys team from Morgan High as a throwback.
This is an unselfish team with many interchangeable parts. Each player seems to know his role. If one has an off night, two others seem ready to take up any slack. The Trojans seem to take the "Band of Brothers" motto they wear on their warmups seriously.
"We've been best friends forever," said Morgan center Bridger Streadbeck. "We all trust each other."
That impressive teamwork was on full display Saturday night at the packed Southern Utah University Centrum as the Trojans blasted surprising Cedar City 59-45 to win their second straight title.
"Two in a row feels great," said Morgan coach Jim Wiscombe, who has taught at the school for 27 years but won his first state title last year. "It took a long time for the first one."
Morgan's unselfish play was reflected in the box score with Garren Miles, Hunter Stanford, Streadbeck and Ben Saunders all hitting double figures.
"They don't care who scores," said Wiscombe. "They just want to win. They play together."
Morgan player Matt Murdock put it another way.
"We have been a really close team and it is fun to win it with all of our guys here," he said. "If the defense steps up and keys on one player, we share the ball and all of us contribute."
Cedar City, the fourth place team from Region Nine and a surprise finalist after a close win Thursday against Juan Diego and a thrilling overtime win over league rival Snow Canyon Friday, never led in this one as Morgan put on a clinic.
From the opening play of the game when a beautiful Trojan play freed up Streadbeck for an uncontested layup, Morgan seemed to be in control. Cedar hung around for awhile, trailing by only three midway through the second quarter.
But Morgan finished the first half with a 14-1 run as its team-oriented style simply overwhelmed the Trojans' surprising challengers.
Cedar City could have easily folded when it fell behind 39-24 at the end of three quarters, but eight straight points to open the final quarter cut the Morgan lead to seven with 5:48 to play as stars Kordan Nielson and Dustin Staggs keyed a late rally.
But that was as close as it would get as Stanford and Miles each hit three-point baskets for Morgan and Stanford added another field goal and free throw to move the Trojans back out by 13. Try as they might, Cedar just couldn't match that.
"They are a hard team to come back on because they shoot the ball well and handle the ball well," said Cedar coach Craig Cardon. "But I am proud of my guys. We talk about finishing the drill. They played for 32 minutes. They could have laid down and died at half but that's not who we are. They [Morgan] are just a good team. They deserved to win the game."