CEDAR CITY — Jim Wiscombe didn’t have anything to worry about after all.
Even though Morgan’s coach admits there was some anxiousness about playing rival Bear River in Thursday’s 3A quarterfinals, his players never shared the same uneasiness.
The No. 1 Trojans played with their usual confident swagger, eventually pulling away from Bear River in the fourth quarter on their way to the 67-54 victory at Southern Utah University.
Bear River only trailed by two at the half and was usually within six to 10 points for most of the game, but defending 3A champion Morgan always seemed firmly in control.
Morgan finally put the game out of reach with 1:52 remaining when Garren Miles converted a four-point play to push Morgan’s lead to 61-49.
“Bear River’s always hung with us. It’s always been fun. It’s always been a competitive game,” said Morgan’s Matt Murdock. “We knew coming into this, we knew we weren’t going to do to them what we did at Bear River (won by 19). We couldn’t get rid of them.”
The Trojans ultimately did enough to win their 14th straight game and advance to Friday’s 3A semifinals against Payson at 7:30 p.m.
“(They’re an) athletic team, good defensively. We just need to go out and play sound fundamental basketball and see what happens,” said Murdock, who led the Trojans with 17 points.
Miles added 13 points for Morgan with Bridger Streadbeck chipping in with 10.
Morgan’s depth and full-court press seemed to gradually wear down Bear River, which committed a staggering 27 turnovers.
“We have a couple guys defensively who can get after it. Matt starts it all out there putting pressure on that point guard,” said Wiscombe.
Jordan Nelson came off the bench to add nine points for Morgan, one of the many reasons this year’s team is favored to repeat as 3A champs.
“It’s been a group effort, not that it wasn’t last year, but offensively we’re a much more balanced team this year,” said Wiscombe.