WEST VALLEY CITY — When Morgan took the court for each game this postseason, the Trojans have sported a special and heartfelt new look.
Morgan wasn’t doing it for dumb luck, some silly superstition or special attention, but rather it was simply displaying its dedicated support to one of its teammates in Kayla Streadbeck, her brother Bridger, who also plays basketball for the Trojans, and the entire community.
Nearly a month removed from 11-year-old Landon Streadbeck’s tragic diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma — a bone cancer that usually affects children over 10 — Morgan has continuously strolled onto the court with the letters L.S. proudly written on every player’s arm to go along with its mustard-yellow socks.
“The L.S. stands for Landon Streadbeck,” senior guard Savanna Brooks said. “He’s a young boy in our community who has cancer. That’s also what our yellow socks are for. They’re for his yellow ribbon — for his cancer ribbon.”
And Friday night’s semifinal matchup against No. 1 Carbon was no exception.
The Trojans came out with their inked arms and yellow socks and played with urgency and passion to open up an early 12-point lead before dominating in the second half to pick up a 56-41 win and advance to a second straight 3A championship.
“We have been praying for him (Landon) and his family this whole year,” Morgan head coach Kade Morrell said. “Every game we put the L.S. on, and for this tournament, we bought the yellow socks to help support not just Landon, but every person here either knows someone or has been touched by cancer. We just want to support everyone in that.”
After opening the game on a 22-10 run, Carbon quickly responded and ended the half on a 15-7 run to cut its deficit to just 29-25 at the break.
“We knew they would make a run,” said Morrell. “I just told them that we have to withstand their run and keep fighting. And they made their run, but then we came back and made our own.”
And boy, did they ever.
After extending its lead in the third quarter, Morgan then drained four key treys in the fourth quarter while locking down on defense and holding the Dinos to just 30 percent shooting from the field, including a dismal 13 percent from deep, to open up its largest lead of the night and secure a spot in the 3A championship game.
“They (3-pointers) went in when we needed them to. They seemed to come at real opportune times,” said Morrell. “I also think we defended their 3-point shooters really well. That was our goal today. We wanted to keep Jordan Scoggins from penetrating, and that was our whole goal.”
With the win, the Trojans move on to a second straight 3A championship game where they will take on region foe and undefeated Juan Diego Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Maverik Center.
“We just want to enjoy the moment. There are only two teams left and we happen to be one of them, so I’m proud of these girls for fighting through this whole year,” added Morrell. “I just want them to come out, enjoy the moment, have fun and work hard.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications and has been a part-time sportswriter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since October 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724