The Morgan High School girls basketball team delivered a dramatic, come-from-behind victory in the 3A state championship game Saturday night in Richfield.
Morgan, down by as many as 12 in the first half, was able to turn things around to get a 51-47 win over Emery.
“It took togetherness and friendship,” said coach Sterling Mack. This is the first state girls basketball title for Morgan since the Lady Trojans earned back-to-back championships in 2003-04, and is the first for Mack.
Emery’s Lady Spartans started out strong as Tatum Tanner dropped in three shots in the first four minutes, while Baylee Jacobson hit a pair of 3-pointers. With a foul shot from Tambrie Tuttle, Emery was up 13-1.
Morgan’s Camilla Brooks broke up the Emery run with a downtowner, followed by a three-point play converted by teammate Alexandria Trussell.
By the end of the first period, Emery was still up 15-7. During the following eight minutes, the Lady Spartans continued to control the lead, adding a point to the spread by halftime, where the score stood at 29-20.
“I told them to just settle in,” Mack said. “I expected these girls to have some jitters. I just told them to settle down and just play our game.”
As the third period began, Morgan’s girls began the work of reeling in Emery.
A 13-5 run in favor of Morgan was capped off with two 3-pointers fired off by Elena Birkeland, and closed the gap to just one point as the final period began.
“Elena hit those clutch 3-pointers. Ever since then we knew we could take that ‘W’ if we just stuck together,” said Alexandria Trussell, a junior for the Lady Trojans.
“I really think we just came together and realized it’s about our team and how we play together. That’s what gets us through those hard spots.” — Morgan’s Janel Blazzard
Janel Blazzard, a junior, hit a shot from the paint and was sent to the line for one more to give Morgan its first lead of the game with 7:43 left to go.
“I really think we just came together and realized it’s about our team and how we play together,” Blazzard said. “That’s what gets us through those hard spots.”
The lead changed hands nine times in the final period.
Just as Morgan pulled ahead by four with 1:22 left in the game, Emery’s Jacobson hit another trey and cut the lead down to one.
Trussell put in her last points from the field with an inside jumper with less than a minute to go.
Jacobsen got sent to the foul line, where she cut the lead down by one with 24.4 seconds left on the clock.
Trussell was then sent to the line with 2.4 seconds left to play, where she drained both shots, making it two-possession game and cementing the win.
“You really just have to focus and hit those,” Trussell said. “They’re easy money.”
Trussell ended the night with a double-double with 13 rebounds and 15 points.
“We were kind of slow to start out in the first quarter. In the third quarter we really picked it up and battled hard,” said Alyvia Jaffa, a freshman who totaled eight rebounds for the Lady Trojans. “From the bench to the court, we all contributed a lot and we all won it together.”
Mack said he is proud of how the team performed under pressure.
“When we play our game this is what happens,” Mack said. “All that hard work in the offseason, to the preseason to the COVID season … it feels good.”
Deseret News all-tournament team
MVP — Alexandra Trussell, Morgan
Janel Blazzard, Morgan
Elena Birkeland, Morgan
Baylee Jacobson, Emery
Tambree Tuttle, Emery
Tatum Tanner, Emery