FINAL: Payson 61, Morgan 63
By Spencer Durrant
Payson High Student Writer
ST. GEORGE – Four quarters weren’t enough for Payson and Morgan, who had to take their game to overtime to determine the victor.
Morgan junior forward Jake Miles hit a running jumper in the paint with only 3.2 seconds left in overtime leaving the Lions with virtually no time to make a shot or call a timeout. The shot gave the Trojans the 63-61 win.
The game was a consolation game after Payson and Morgan’s losses yesterday in the state quarterfinals. In the first quarter, both teams got out and pushed the ball, turning the game into a track meet early on. The intensity and level of competitive fire was felt from the get go between the two very evenly matched teams. Payson ended the first quarter up 19-13 behind two three pointers from senior guard Brett Rowley.
The second quarter followed the same pattern as the first with both teams getting out in transition and scoring in the paint. The defensive intensity picked up and the Lions ended the half on top 29-22.
Out of halftime the Trojans outscored the Lions 15-9, but Payson still held a 38-37 lead at the end of the period. Players from both teams stepped up and made big shots to either tie or give their team a lead. Defense was tighter; the in your face, gritty style of defensive play Lions fans are used to seeing from their team.
The fourth quarter was a wild finish with Payson’s Tanner Newbold hitting two big 3-point shots to keep the Lions on top. Star guard Clint Bateman missed clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Lions couldn’t pull away. The energy level in the building picked up noticeably, and the consolation game both teams were playing at the beginning turned into the most competitive game so far in the state tournament.
Morgan took a timeout with 12 seconds left to play in regulation, and Morgan’s senior guard Christian Wiscombe drove in for the bucket to tie the game up at 57 and send the contest into overtime.
The first points in overtime didn’t come until 2:45 remained in the game; Bateman hit a difficult 10-foot baseline jumper to give the Lions a 59-57 lead. Neither team was really able to take control as they traded leads until the final shot. After Bateman’s jump shot, a series of fouls by Payson sent Morgan to the free throw stripe enough times to give the Trojans a 61-59 lead with only 2:14 left to play.
Newbold was fouled at the 2:10 mark, and made both free throws to tie the game up again at 61. Morgan then employed the often-criticized strategy seen in close high school basketball games as they held the ball for the rest of the time to get the last shot. Morgan kept the rock from the Lions until the 14.8 mark in overtime, and then took a timeout. Out of the timeout, the ball went to Morgan’s Jake Miles, who made the pull-up jump shot from just inside the key to seal the Trojans’ victory. “I’m a confident player, it was a good shot; you’re supposed to think every shot you take should go in,” said Miles. But confident shooting wasn’t the only thing that gave Morgan the win. “The keys to our win tonight were teamwork and good defense,” said Miles. “We buckled down and played hard defense in the second half.”