Ogden • It started at nine and worked its way down to the buzzer.
The Morgan student section counted the seconds, the crescendo rising as the clock wound down. In seven ... six ... five, the Trojans would be state champions. In three ... two ... one.
Morgan 58, Bear River 44Morgan leads by about 20 points for most of the second half.
» The Trojans’ defense suffocates the Bears.
For Morgan star guard Jake Miles, who bounced up and down with his teammates on the sideline, each individual second of the countdown flew by too quick to savor. There was too much wrapped up in the victory, too much meaning in each moment to put it in its proper place.
There’d be time for that later.
"You just get butterflies," Miles said. "You’re like, ‘We’re gonna be state champs.’ It doesn’t feel real, you know?"
When the countdown hit zero and the buzzer flared, the Trojans had put the finishing touches on a 58-44 takedown of rival Bear River on Saturday evening in the Class 3A state title game.
The Trojans hadn’t expected a blowout. Two regular-season games against the Bears — both Morgan victories — had been decided by one point apiece. But the Trojans started hot, and the Bears never recovered. The Morgan lead hovered around 20 points throughout most of the second half.
"We thought we were going to be in for another dog fight, but we came out, and we just wanted it more," said Miles, who led all scorers with 16 points. "We got after every dead ball."
Morgan flustered Bear River with a press defense, forcing turnovers and mistakes. Even when the Bears had open looks, they seldom went in. Bear River star Wade Miller didn’t score until late in the third and finished with just five points.
"He’s too good of a player for one person to stop him," Miles said. "So we just had all five players say, ‘We have to stop Miller to win this game.’"
That Morgan overwhelmed the Bears with their energy was unexpected. The Bears had cruised to a blowout win over Snow Canyon in the semifinal Friday night. The Trojans had clawed out a last-second win against Wasatch.
"We just knew we were 32 minutes away from our dream," Miles said. "We knew we were 32 minutes away from getting what we’ve worked so hard for this whole season. Really, [fatigue] didn’t affect us that much."
After the game, the Trojans crowded in near the hoop and cut down the net. Players posed with the championship trophy. Miles had waited years for this and had suffered through two previous heartbreaking playoff eliminations.
When it was his turn to pose, Miles dangled his piece of twine from his lips, kneeled on one knee and kissed the trophy. Now that he finally was in that moment, ecstasy was taking over.
"That was just spur of the moment," he said.
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