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High school basketball: No. 1 Wasatch holds off Morgan in 3A quarterfinals

The Wasatch High bench can taste the victory coming as the Wasps beat the Morgan Trojans in the 3A quarterfinals.
The Wasatch High bench can taste the victory coming as the Wasps beat the Morgan Trojans in the 3A quarterfinals.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

OREM — Regardless of its own lofty accomplishments this season, Wasatch had plenty of reasons to fear Morgan heading into Thursday's quarterfinals.

Not only was Morgan the only 3A team that even kept it close against Wasatch during the regular season, but the Trojans also match up very well against their former region rivals.

None of that seemed to intimidate No. 1 Wasatch though.

It withstood Morgan's best punches throughout the first three quarters and methodically pulled away down the stretch for a 63-54 victory in the 3A quarterfinals at Utah Valley University.

"That first game is always a tough game, and every team that's here is a good team," said Wasatch coach Norm Hayter. "We feel very fortunate to get a win on the first day."

The Wasps (22-1) will now face Hurricane Friday at 7:30 p.m. for a berth in Saturday's state championship.

Trevor Bamgartner is a big reason Wasatch is still the team to beat. The senior poured in a game-high 29 points, including 15 in the second half as the Wasps demonstrated tremendous poise when it mattered most.

"He's a good leader. He's always a steady hand out there, helps keep everyone settled down," said Hayter. "His presence on that court helps keep everybody where they need to be."

Despite leading 23-19 at the break, Wasatch watched the lead vanish midway through the third quarter as Morgan made five straight shots to pull in front 32-29. It was by no means a big deficit, but momentum was clearly on the underdogs' side heading into crunch time.

Wasatch had a response though — not surprising for a 20-win team — and it was impressive. It went on a 10-0 run to open up a 39-32 lead before Morgan's Trevor Ewing hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

"We don't panic when we get behind. We've been behind before, and I told them even before the game started, if that happens don't panic and don't try and get all the points back at once," said Hayter. "We just chip away, chip away and keep playing the way we play and good things will happen."

Ewing hit two more 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to keep the Trojans close, but Wasatch had an answer every time, scoring on eight straight possessions and opening up a 55-48 victory with less than two minutes remaining.

The Wasps iced the victory by making 6-of-10 free throws the rest of the way, finishing the game with a decided 20-4 edge at the foul line.

Jake Hobbs added 13 points to go along with Bamgartner's 29 as Wasatch finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field. Interestingly, Morgan shot 52 percent from the field but it couldn't overcome costly turnovers and a clear disadvantage at the charity stripe.