Morgan Academy reaches Elite 8 in AISA state tournament

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The No. 10 ranked Morgan Academy Senators are headed to Montgomery on Thursday to compete in the AISA Elite 8 State Tournament.

The Senators finished in third place in the area tournament and are the No. 3 seed in the AAA state tournament. They will face the No. 2 seed Springwood in the opening round at 7:30 p.m. in the Montgomery Multiplex.

“We actually got a pretty good draw I think in the final eight,” Morgan head coach Mark Knight said. “I think we’ve got a fairly good shot if we play well tomorrow. I want us to go in there loose and have fun. It seems like the nights we have fun, we play well and shoot the ball better.”

Email newsletter signup

Springwood is the only team on the AAA bracket that the Senators haven’t already faced this year. Lee-Scott, Pike Liberal, Hooper, Tuscaloosa, Lakeside and Glenwood make up the rest of the Elite 8 teams. During the regular season and area tournament, the Senators have already earned wins against Lee-Scott, Tuscaloosa, Pike Liberal and Hooper.

As the season progressed, the Senators did have to make adjustments after losing key players to injury. Gunnar Henderson, the teams’ primary scorer at the start of the season, was shutdown with an injury less than halfway through the schedule.

However, his injury didn’t stop his team from competing and winning throughout the season. Without a clear primary scorer, it has allowed multiple players on the team to contribute on the stat sheet. The offense could come from the wing players like Dione Allen, Britton Adams and Jay Creech. Should the Senators need to work inside, Sawyer Hopkins, Hayden Bruner and Colton Roberts can step up in the post.

“We give 100 percent no matter what happens,” Allen said. “No matter how much we’re down in the game, and that really helps us out a lot.”

On the defensive end, the Senators have played strong enough to prevent games from turning into shootouts. According to Knight, they have held most of their opponents to scoring less than 50 points per game.

“Our defense has really gotten better,” Knight said. “If we can get any outside shots, that will open up our inside game even more.”

The boys on the team are looking forward to competing in the state tournament, and really making each game count.

“We want to take advantage of the moment,” Allen said. “We’ve got a couple seniors on the team and we want to take it all the way for them to make sure they end their senior year with a bang.”

According to senior guard Ed Williams, the team chemistry that has been built with this group will be key in their tournament run.

“Everyone’s been contributing lately,” he said. “Against Pike we had four or five guys score in double-digits, so that’s how we play best. I think the key is to keep playing as a team and not let the pressure get to us.”