R-C Sports Notebook: Morgan the unsung player in the North this year

I was joined in the bleachers Friday night by a local basketball junkie who comes out about once a year to take a look at the current season's vintage of the Douglas High boys' basketball team.

Last year, he raved about Douglas' Keith Olson " then senior, now Northern Arizona freshman " as Olson put up 28 points in a 91-73 thumping of North Valleys.

This year, the North Carolina transplant showed up once again, this time to take a look at Reno's lauded post player Olek Czyz, bound for my friend's favorite school Duke.

While he came to see Czyz, he spent the majority of the game raving in his thick Carolina drawl about Reno point guard Austin Morgan.

And why shouldn't he?

Morgan was nothing less than electric in Reno's 60-41 win over Douglas. It was his personal 7-0 run late in the third quarter that quickly propelled the game from nailbiter to blowout. He finished with 20 points and two 3-pointers.

As a freshman, Morgan played in the shadow of the Reno's state-championship, senior-laden squad in 2006.

Last year, Czyz took center stage.

This year, Morgan " a junior " has entrenched himself as one of the top players in the Northern 4A.

If the ballots were to be cast for all-league teams today, my guess is Morgan would take home the Sierra League Player of the Year honors.

It's not just because he can hit a shot from anywhere on the court under any number of coverages. It's not his ability to knife through opposing defenses with such speed and flluidity that traps and presses (and pretty much any zone scheme) are rendered ineffective at best.

No, I told my friend, it's that the kid isn't even a point guard.

Morgan shifted over from the shooting position after Reno's Roger Carlson (a standout in his own right) went down with an ACL tear before the season.

Morgan is learning on the fly, which is pretty much the same way his entire game is played.

He has repeatedly shown the ability to take a game over from a position that he has been playing at the varsity level for little more than two months.

Don't be surprised to see the big-name schools come knocking over the next several months.

Morgan doesn't have the college size that many recruiters may look for, but he has a rare and often spectacular skill set that could carry him into a D-I program in two years.

A glance at the scoreboard after the Reno-Douglas would leave Tiger fans with little encouragement.

But the game, believe it or not, wasn't nearly as one-sided as it could have been.

Douglas has been at its strongest in its trap defense this season.

Reno's speed proved to be too much for that to be effective.

But, as Douglas coach Corey Thacker said after Friday's game,the Tigers very impressive when they could set up their halfcourt defense.

In fact, the Tigers gave up just three or four offensive rebounds in the first half against a team with superior height.

That could translate into a closer game when the teams meet up again in the regular-season finale that should ultimately decide the Sierra League


It's a given that Reno will get its transition baskets (that's what sparked Friday's second half run and ultimately what propelled the Huskies to the win). It could even be argued that there isn't a finer transition team in the state.

So really, it wasn't a defensive problem at all for Douglas.

To narrow the score down the next time around, the Tigers are simply going to have to be ultra-protective of the basketball on the offensive end of the floor.

There was a stretch where the Tigers took a 20-15 lead on the Huskies after a series of gritty baskets inside the paint.

If the Tigers can settle into their motion offense and spread the ball around (which is what has been distinctive of their best play this season), expect the game to tip the opposite direction next time around.

With Reno's tireless defense, however, saying you'll be more patient and actually being more patient are things that exist miles apart.

It'll be an interesting rematch, whatever ends up happening.

The South Tahoe-Douglas matchup always brings with it a certain rivalry atmosphere.

The Vikings have distinguished themselves with a loud, often boisterous crowd that travels exceptionally well.

So Saturday's matchup at the Lake might have brought the Douglas girls a certain level of difficulty to get ready for, seeing as how the Tigers were coming off a blowout loss to Reno in a battle for first place the night before.

But there were those underlying stories heading into this game.

Douglas has five players on its roster who played for the Lady Tiger soccer team this fall.

South Tahoe has a handful of players on its roster from this fall's unbeaten Sierra League champions.

The Vikings were the team who not only ended the Tigers' soccer season in the regional semifinals, but also broke the Tigers' home winning streak on senior night before proceeding to stomp on the Tiger logo at midfield.

So it wasn't hard to surmise that the Tigers would be on a certain path of vengeance Saturday night.

While Douglas ended up taking a 41-29 win, the Tigers were met with a strong and much-improved Viking squad.

Four of those five soccer players ended up putting points on the board for the Tigers.


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