RIVERTON — A year after Morgan’s boys basketball team ended a 39-year state championship drought, senior Garren Miles says there’s no reason the Trojans can’t do it again.
“I feel we’re better than last year’s team,” said Miles. “Last year we had Jake, my cousin, who was our only good shooter, but this year all of our seniors can shoot the ball really well.”
After a slow first few weeks to the season, Morgan certainly looks like a 3A contender again.
Led by Miles’ career-high 31 points on Saturday, Morgan won its fourth straight game by knocking off 5A’s Hunter 69-62 in the Riverton Holiday Tournament quarterfinals.
The Trojans trailed by as many as 10 in the second quarter, but strong defense helped them tie it by halftime and then pull away in the second half.
“To win this game is big for them, ’cause they just need to work on their confidence and build their confidence,” said Morgan coach Jim Wiscombe.
Realistically, confidence was never lacking for the defending 3A champs despite a 0-5 start to the season. Returning starters Matt Murdock and Bridger Streadbeck were both injured the first four games, and their teammates always knew their return would be a huge boost.
Morgan is 4-1 since their return, and now it’s preparing to play in the Riverton Tournament semifinals this Monday at 7 p.m. against Riverton.
Miles was definitely the catalyst on Saturday, particularly in the fourth quarter as he scored 14 of his 31 points — including a pair of 3-pointers — to hold of Hunter’s comeback attempt.
Hunter Stanford extended Morgan’s lead to 47-41 with a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, and every time Hunter scored the rest of the quarter, the Trojans responded with a score of their own.
Miles attributes that killer instinct to Wiscombe’s chat with his team before the tournament.
“He gave us a pretty good speech and got us all pumped up. We’re sick of losing, we’re not a losing team,” said Miles.
Back to full strength, the Trojans now have four players averaging in double figures, and Wiscombe is starting to see his players display the winning mentality that made last year’s squad impossible to beat.
“These kids want to get back there. They’ve been there, they know what it’s like. They know how fun it was. They think they have a shot at it,” said Wiscombe. “I don’t think right now we’re the best team in the state in 3A, but if we get better maybe we’ve got a shot at it.”
Streadbeck added 10 points in the victory for Morgan, with Ben Saunders adding nine.
Hunter’s Noah Togiai scored 23 points in the loss for the Wolverines.