Morgan writhed in his seat throughout the Indians’ 71-56 win over city rival Sullivan South in a Big 9 Conference tilt.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot and kept the game close,” a visibly displeased Morgan said afterward. “It was like that all night.”
The Tribe (12-3, 5-1) blew leads of 14 points in the second quarter and 12 in the third before finally breaking open a five-point game with four minutes to play.
Two clutch jumpers — from Justin Sylvester and Ashlon Adams — followed by a tough layup in traffic by Jordan Edwards gave D-B an 11-point edge. The Indians would only add to the margin the rest of the way.
“We finally went down and got some scores late,” Morgan said. “Then we got back-to-back stops, which I wanted. I thought at times, especially at the end, our halfcourt defense played pretty well.”
South, thanks to a late surge to close the first half, trailed by nine at intermission. After the break, the Rebels (9-7, 2-3) tore out of the gate.
Relatively silent over the first two periods, Tyler Ashworth quietly — then loudly — began to carry South on his 6-foot-5 frame. The senior had nine points in the third, including a three-point play that pulled the Rebs within four with 3:56 to play in the quarter.
A Dustin Sims jumper made it 38-36, but South couldn’t maintain the frantic pace. D-B reeled off 10 unanswered points to stifle the rally.
“The kids played really hard,” Rebels coach Mark Pendleton said. “I think by the time we cut it to two points, we were a little tired. A comeback like that takes your legs.
“Tyler was big for us,” Pendleton added. “He really kind of took over the game in the third quarter. When he plays that way, he’s pretty hard to stop.”
South pulled within 50-45 two minutes into the final period, but got no closer. A pair of and-one finishes from Adams quieted the Rebels’ rowdy student section.
Adams finished with 19 points, while Edwards added 18. Dustin McConnell and Sylvester collected nine for the Tribe, which hosts Science Hill on Friday.
“Any time the ’Toppers come to town, the Indians are waiting,” Morgan said.
Ashworth paced South with a game-high 21 points. Reserve Andrew Pickwell had nine.
Earlier, a decisive third-quarter performance allowed the Lady Indians to cruise.
D-B (10-5, 5-1) opened the second half on a 9-2 run, eventually stretching a nine-point halftime lead to 19 by the end of the third period.
Post Blaine Frohlich, active in the paint all night, led the Lady Indians with 19 points. Tori Head added 14 and three steals.
Makensey Campbell finished with 13 points for South (3-8, 1-5), which struggled offensively the entire game.
“I thought we played hard,” said D-B coach Roger France, whose team forced 18 turnovers and had 17 offensive rebounds.
“I thought we really defended well. We were just active. We played with a little excitement.”