Senators run past Clarke Prep

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 12, 2004

Morgan Academy used a pressing defense that turned Clarke Prep mistakes into quick baskets in the Senators’ 64-29 win over the Gators Friday night at Morgan Academy.

The victory lifted the Senators (4-2) into the championship game of the Pepsi Challenge Tournament against Wilcox Academy. The title game was played Saturday night.

The evening began with large question marks hanging over the head of Morgan Academy boys’ basketball coach David Walker.

Email newsletter signup

The Senators coach expressed concern of not only what kind of challenge Clarke Prep Academy would present his team, but also which Morgan Academy team would show up for the game.

After all, the Senators came up with an impressive victory over Meadowview Christian just one week ago.

However, the Senators also turned the ball over and made countless errors in a loss to Tuscaloosa Academy earlier this week.

Though well-founded, Walker’s concerns were quickly squelched. This time, it was the Gators who made the mistakes and the Senators who took advantage of them.

The game tempo was decided early as Morgan Academy grabbed three quick steals en route to fast-break buckets and a 13-0 lead.

Guard Eric Pilcher ignited the early wun with a pair of steals, taking them all the way for easy layups and a 6-0 Senators’ lead.

Center Reid Tolar also got into the act. Morgan Academy’s big guy in the middle picked off a Clarke Prep pass and dished it forward to guard Jeremy Smith, who scored the easy layup. Tolar then collected a defensive rebound and finished with a jumper from the top of the key to make it 10-0.

After a Pilcher free throw, Tolar took advantage of another Clarke Prep turnover with a short baseline jumper to make it 13-0. Morgan Academy led 17-5 after the first period.

“It was strictly fast breaks for us,” Walker said. “We knew we could score against them as long as we could keep breaking.”

The scenario changed little as Morgan Academy opened the second period on an 8-2 run.

Tolar and Ben Callaway keyed the Senators’ offensive production for the period with a pair of steals and transition baskets.

Callaway came off the bench and quickly picked the pocket of Clarke Prep guard Chad Dickinson. Callaway then broke away from the pack and laid in the basket to make it 23-5. Morgan Academy’s little-used forward John Porter saw plenty of action against the Gators as well.

Porter hit a jumper from the top of the key and a pair of free throws to extend the Senators’ lead to 31-12. Morgan Academy enjoyed a 32-12 halftime advantage. “We had the opportunity to work on some things tonight,” Walker said. “In the second quarter and second half, we were able to work on our zones.”

The Gators were somewhat able to score on the young Senators’ and their zone defense. Led by forwards Jake Turner and Marcus Etheridge, Clarke Prep tallied 11 fourth-quarter points, the Gators’ best eight-minute offensive stretch of the game. Etheridge showed his power with some solid inside moves that led to layups, while Turner showed his shooting touch with a three-pointer from the left wing that made it 58-27 with under a minute to go.

“I’d like to have those two on my team,” Walker said. “They’re some pretty big kids.

“Clarke Prep played without their best two players tonight,” Walker added. “That’s a team you want

to play now. You don’t want to play them when they get their team together.”