“I tell the guys a good team has vision and one heartbeat,’’ he said Friday night after the Indians defeated Volunteer 80-48. “These guys really hang in together. They share the ball well. We try to divide the minutes with nine or 10 players in big games. All we ask is that they contribute something when they go in.’’
D-B (16-2, 9-0) followed the script closely against the Falcons (6-10, 4-5), nudging a step closer to the Big 9 Conference championship.
This is likely D-B’s best team since the 1992-93 season. It definitely is the strongest one Morgan has had in his eight years here.
Five players scored in double figures. Jordan Edwards and Todd Halvorsen each scored 12, Justin Sylvester got 11 and Jamel Williams and Marshall Hardy hit 10 apiece.
Edwards and Darren Riggs retrieved eight and seven rebounds, respectively. Williams had five assists. He and Hardy executed three steals each. Riggs blocked two shots, as did Edwards.
D-B outboarded the Falcons 37-23, outshot them percentage-wise 51-35 and had four less turnovers.
The state’s No. 5-ranked Class AAA team struck the first blow when the 6-foot-5 Hardy stole the ball at midcourt and drove for a slam dunk to arouse the crowd of some 2,500.
“I liked the way we started,’’ Morgan said. “I’m not the type of coach who gets jacked up over a dunk. But what a dunk! That set the tone for us.’’
D-B immediately ran up a 10-2 lead. The Falcons never recovered from it.
Hardy appeared to be posturing for another dunk with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter but was driven into padded wall behind the basket by Javian Shivers, a 6-6 center. An intentional foul was called and Shivers was ejected, drawing a two-game suspension from the TSSAA.
“I want to apologize to Marshall Hardy and Coach Morgan for that bad foul on him,’’ Volunteer coach Todd Whittemore said. “I don’t know why it happened but it was an eye sore on the game. We play physically but don’t condone that sort of thing.’’
Whittemore said the Indians were impressive. “This is probably one of the two toughest games on our schedule. D-B is awfully good. They have four really good post players and their team is a class act.’’
Ray Carpenter led the Falcons with 14 points and Aaron Bennett added 13. Keith Cradic, usually a high scorer, was relatively quiet with five points because the Indians had his whereabouts monitored at all times.
Cameron Trent, the Falcons’ promising 6-7 sophomore, hit 3 of 4 field goals attempts and blocked five shots. “Cameron is getting over that bronchitis and playing pretty well,’’ Whittemore said.
Sylvester led D-B’s early charge, enabling the home team to build a 17-9 lead. Williams chimed in with a second-quarter flurry and the margin was expanded to 40-22 by halftime.
Starting the second half, Volunteer rallied briefly on the shooting of Bennett and Trent but Hardy, Williams and Bronson Flack collaborated on a surge.
“Halvorsen played well tonight,’’ Morgan said.
He was 3-for-4 from the floor and perfect at the foul line. From the field, Hardy and Flack each went 4-for-6 and Edwards was 5-for-8.
D-B’s girls won over fired-up Volunteer 59-50.
The Lady Indians (12-5, 7-2) trailed 31-30 at halftime but regrouped to ward off an upset bid.
Ball-hawking Tori Head tossed in 16 points and Juli Osborne followed with 11 for Roger France’s team.
Osborne put D-B ahead 32-21 in the third quarter. Blaine Frohlich put in two quick baskets, enabling her team to pull away.
“Give Volunteer credit,’’ France said. “They’d been struggling and came in here and played lights out.
“We did find a way to win. It’s a war in this league. If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game every night, you’re going to get beat.’’
Volunteer sank nine goals from 3-point range, five by Chanoa Bledsoe. She scored 17 points to top the Lady Falcons’ scoring. Mykayla Porter added 14.
“We’d been in sort of a funk lately,’’ Volunteer coach Dennis Anderson said. “These girls realize now they can play with anybody. It hurt them and hurt me the way we’d played the last two games.
“We had a 3-pointer rim out in the second half that would have put us back in it tonight. We didn’t cash in when we needed to.’’