Morgan Academy’s Ford Manderson, right, drives to the basket against a Monroe defender during a game this season. -- Robert Hudson

Senators focused on region tourney after improved season

Published 4:57pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Morgan Academy Senators are looking to continue improving as they prepare to host the region tournament.

The Senators will host the Alabama Independent School Association Class 3A Region 2 tournament on Thursday, Jan. 31 through Saturday, Feb. 2.

Bob Taylor, head boys basketball coach of Morgan Academy (20-6), said it’s an honor, as well as an advantage, to host the region tournament.

“Hosting the region tournament, everybody likes playing here. They feel like we have one of the best gyms in the state. When they came to us and asked us would we do it, I was like “heck yeah, we’d be more than happy to,”” Taylor said. “It’s a huge honor, it’s a huge responsibility, but be being able to play on your home floor is a huge advantage, too.”

Games will start at 3 p.m. on Thursday with the fourth-seed Morgan girls facing the first-seed Tuscaloosa Academy girls, followed by the third-seed Escambia boys against the second-seed Tuscaloosa boys.

The third-seed Monroe girls will play the second-seed Kingwood girls and the third-seed Bessemer girls will face the second-seed Escambia girls at 6 p.m.

The fourth-seed Monroe boys will play the first-seed Kingwood boys, and the third-seed Bessemer boys will play the second-seed Morgan boys at 7:30 p.m.

Games will start at 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Taylor said his team is heavily focused on Thursday’s game against Bessemer.

“The next two days, we’re going to work a lot on Bessemer Academy learning what they do and going over scouting reports,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to get ready for them. That’s the key game. We’ve got to win that one Thursday because if you lose Thursday, your season is over. That’s been our main thing that we’ve been working on.”

Taylor said the Senators have shown great improvement this season.

“The year that we’ve had has been a great year. We’ve had probably as good a year as we’ve had at Morgan in a while. It’s the best one we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Taylor said. “It’s taken three years, I guess, for us to kind of buy in and for kids to know what I expect. We know what we’re doing on everything. Last-second plays, inbound plays, they know them from the junior high all the way up. It’s just made a difference all around for us as far as basketball.”

Taylor added his team has improved shooting wise, as well as gained some key experience.

“I think our overall shooting percentage is way up. Our free throw shooting is up. Overall, just being able to run our offense the way we need to, and more consistent play over time has made a big difference,” Taylor said. “We’re a year older than we were a year ago when we started three or four 10th graders at different times. Those guys have had to grow up and they’re juniors now. Our senior post players have really come on and done a good job with that also.”

Taylor said the Senators are heavily focused on making it to Montgomery for the Elite 8, and have worked hard all season.

“They’ve had a good work ethic about it. That’s our goal is to get back to Montgomery and play there. They’ve worked extremely hard through the summer and now through the season,” Taylor said. “It’s just taken time, and they know the goal is to go back there, and anything after that is all gravy for us.”

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