Morgan leads Reno High past Carson boys
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
RENO ” During pre-game introductions Reno guard Austin Morgan sat at the end of the bench, waiting for his name to be called one final time.
He was the last to be introduced and, like he has during his four-year career, he simply shook the hands of the three referees and the opposing coach before meeting up with the rest of his team.
It took Morgan just 24 seconds to make his first basket of the game. Unluckily for the fourth-seeded Carson Senators he didn’t stop hitting shots until he was pulled in the third quarter during the No. 1-seed Huskies’ 68-46 win in the first round of the Northern 4A regional playoffs.
“Austin, he’s a big-time player and he shows up for big games,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “It’s a credit to his hard work and dedication and that’s why he’s one of the best players in Northern Nevada.”
Morgan, who has committed to play at Yale next season, scored his team’s first 12 points and scored as much as the Senators through the first 15 minutes, 6 seconds of the game. He finished with a game-high 23 points.
The Senators (14-12) came into the game knowing they would have to contain Morgan in order to score a huge upset over the 2008 state champions. Morgan couldn’t get inside of the lane as the Carson defense closed down the lane every time he even stepped toward the basket.
So, instead of driving, Morgan nearly stepped back for his first points of the night as he hit a three from NBA range.
“We were trying to make sure we always had someone on him, but when he pulled up for the first one I think it was from 24 feet,” Barnes said. “If he’s going to beat you out there then we can close the gap a little bit, but when he gets into the lane he gets everyone else involved. We were hoping that he would be off a little bit tonight, but unfortunately he wasn’t.”
Senior guard Matt Rutledge earned the job of covering Morgan and stayed with him much of the night, but Morgan continued to hit shots despite the defense.
“I was feeling pretty good tonight, I’m not going to lie to you,” Morgan said. “Carson is a really good team, their coach is really good and they had them ready to play tonight. They played a tough style of defense so I knew we had to come out and give it to them.”
Even as Carson watched Morgan dominate, their heads never hung and they never appeared down.
But his play did get to a smattering of Carson students, who briefly chanted a racial slur directed to Morgan, who is mixed-raced.
The students were quickly warned by a Carson administrator, who threatened to kick them out if they said it again.
The words Barnes used to describe Morgan are what he hopes his players will be as he tries to put Carson on the path of perennial playoff contender.
“Obviously we’re going to miss the seniors …” Barnes said. “They’re hard to replace, but I think they at least gave guys an idea of how hard they have to work in the offseason. People think that you do this from November to February and that’s when you get better. You get better from March to November, that’s when you become a player.”