Morgan Academy boys embracing underdog role vs. Glenwood

Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Morgan Academy Senators are embracing the underdog role going into Thursday’s playoff game with Glenwood in the Alabama Independent School Association quarterfinals.

“They probably outmatch us but you never know going into a game,” said Senators’ junior Sawyer Hopkins. “We have our chances but we have to take advantage of them.”

Glenwood comes in as the No. 2 ranked team in the AISA and the highest ranked team in class AAA. The Gators are long, athletic and tall and are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. On Thursday in Montgomery, they’ll be expected to beat Morgan, who comes in after losing two games in the region 2 tournament.

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The Senators, who have only two seniors, are more than OK with being the underdog.

“They know we have nothing to lose,” said Morgan coach Lee Tate.

“There’s zero pressure on us. Nobody expects us to score, much less win. Basketball is a funny game and a lot of stranger things have happened.”

Morgan finished last in its area last year and started this season with a 3-7 record before rallying to go 5-1 in region 2 play. The Senators won the region by squeaking by Monroe in their final regular season game, which gave them a bye in the region tournament and an automatic spot in the state tournament.

During the stretch run, Morgan was playing some of its best basketball of the year. Some of that momentum went by the wayside last week, when the Senators went winless in the region 2 tournament, but Tate is confident the team can get it back.

The Senators know limiting turnovers will be key.

“We’ve got to stop their transition points,” Hopkins said. “They get points off fast breaks and they play good defense. We’ve got to hit our shots when we get open shots and we can’t have a lot of turnovers.”

Glenwood likes to run the floor, so that it’s athleticism can take over games. Tate said Morgan will have to adjust on the fly.

“We don’t want to help them at all,” Tate said. “If they don’t press, we may be taking our time bringing it down.”

Morgan uncharacteristically turned the ball over a lot in the first half against Lakeside Academy in their last game and it turned into one of the team’s most lopsided losses of the year. Tate said that loss has served as a great teaching point this week.

He expects Morgan to play more like the team that won six of its last seven regular season games.

“They’ve worked hard and it’s paid off them. I’m glad they’re getting this opportunity,” Tate said. “I know they’ll make the most of it. We’ll give it everything we’ve got.”

The game starts at 10:30 a.m. at Cramton Bowl, much earlier than the traditional high school basketball game.

“Maybe they’ll be a little sluggish,” Hopkins said with a laugh.