Morgan Academy’s Ford Manderson goes up for a shot during Thursday’s game against Bessemer Academy. -- Robert Hudson

Morgan opens area tourney with 83-75 win over Bessemer

Published 11:38pm Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Morgan Academy Senators relied on good shooting down the stretch to defeat the Bessemer Academy Rebels 83-75 to open the AISA Class 3A Region 2 tournament on Thursday.

Bob Taylor, head boys basketball coach of Morgan (21-6), said his team shot the ball well in the win.

“We shot the ball extremely well tonight, I thought. We hit a lot of threes early, which kind of gave us separation, and they went on a nice run and cut it back down, but then we started getting back in the flow,” Taylor said. “We got away from what we do running our offense and not playing good, solid defense like we were earlier and then we just had to survive because they did a great job doing what they do. We hit some shots down the stretch. Connor Henderson did a good job hitting some big shots, and Grey Cothran came off the bench and gave us some good minutes, too.”

After trailing by double digits throughout the third, the Rebels cut the Senators’ lead to 56-47 heading into the fourth, but Morgan’s Zach Singh hit a mid-range shot in the lane to make it 58-47 with 7:11 left to play.

The Rebels responded with a 3-pointer by Christian Hill and a free throw by Jaylon Winston that made it 58-51, but Morgan’s Dalton Lee hit a pair from the line and Ford Manderson scored on a fast-break layup to extend the Senators’ lead to 62-51 with 6:00 left to play.

Brandon Cook hit a three for the Rebels, and Lee hit two more free throws for Morgan that put the score at 64-54 with 5:05 left.

But Cook hit another three and teammate Jared Williams hit two of three free throws to help bring Bessemer closer at 64-59 with 4:37 left to play.

Henderson scored on a three-point play and hit two free throws to help Morgan extend its lead to 69-63.

Cothran added a pair of free throws that made it 71-63, before Winston hit a free throw to make it a 71-64 game with 2:21 left to play.

But Henderson hit another key shot and two more free throws, as Cothran added two more from the line to help Morgan go up 77-66 with 1:20 left to play, putting the game out of reach.

Lee led Morgan with 25 points, Manderson had 21 points and Henderson had 19 points.

Winston had 23 points for Bessemer, while Hill had 19 points and Cook added 14 points for the Rebels.

Morgan, the second seed in the tournament, will take the floor again Friday at 7:30 p.m. against top-seed Kingwood.

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