The shots weren’t falling as Highland muddled through a sloppy warmup.
Forward Henry Morris felt his confidence dip. He knew what was at stake, what opportunity would be lost, if the Rams didn’t heat up by the time the first buzzer echoed through the Huntsman Center.
Highland 74, Timpview 64Henry Morris’ 18 first-half points are key to Highland’s upset of No. 1-seed Timpview.
» The Rams shoot 55.6 percent from the field and hit nine 3-pointers.
» Guard Britain Covey scores 19 points to lead Timpview in the loss.
"I was a little nervous," he said.
But the Rams’ struggles vanished when the game began. So did Morris’ nerves. He scored 18 points in the first half to propel the No. 4 seed Rams to a 74-64 upset over Region 8 champion Timpview in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament Monday.
"Watching them on film, it felt like they were pretty beatable," Morris said. "Before watching film, I was a little intimidated. Timpview is basically good at everything. But after watching film, we were confident."
Morris, who finished with 24 points, was not the only Ram to start the game by scorching the net. Highland shot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half to knock the Thunderbirds on their heels and take a 19-point halftime lead.
"We didn’t have a lot of contested shots," Morris said. "They were pretty open and we all expect each other to hit those shots."
Timpview made a run in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. The Rams kept it out of striking distance by hitting enough free throws down the stretch.
Highland’s postgame locker room was one of celebration but not surprise. The Rams had believed in themselves long before anyone else, which was evident for those 32 minutes when they appeared to be a superior team to the No. 1-seeded Thunderbirds.
"It was like, ‘We expected to do this,’ " Morris said. "It wasn’t like, ‘I can’t believe we just beat a No. 1 seed.’ We feel we’re just as good, if not better, than them."
And now the Rams, who beat Woods Cross in a play-in game for the final Region 6 seed, are one win away from the semifinals — one hot stretch from something special.
"Kids get hot, teams get hot and start playing well," Morris said. "The state tournament is only one week, so you start playing well and anything can happen."
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