Morgan bests Warren boys 50-43 in season opener

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Warren’s Josh Huffman (15) holds the ball as Morgan’s Marty Sidwell (30) defends during a high school boys basketball game Friday night in Vincent.

VINCENT — During crunchtime action in the final period, Morgan High head coach Adam Copeland turned to the media table nearby and said, “This is fun.”

While it might have been that for the Raider boss and his team, it was anything but for Warren High, which dropped a 50-43 decision Friday night in a season-opening boys’ basketball game at the Warrior gym.

“I think we went two-for-19 in the fourth quarter,” said 19th-year WHS head coach Blane Maddox, who is still one milestone win shy of a career 300. “And, we ended up with 20 turnovers.”

Morgan turned the ball over 21 times.

“You can tell it was both team’s first game,” Maddox said. “Both teams have got to keep working.”

Both teams also shot 29 percent from the floor.

“We had a lot of bunnies we missed,” Maddox said. “I’ve just got to find a cohesive team that can play defense and score. We’ve got some guys who can score a little bit more than others.”

Josh Huffman finished with a game-high 19 points for the Warriors (0-1). Troy Huck chipped in with seven markers, all in the opening half.

“Josh had an OK game,” Maddox said. “But he’s got to be better than that. He’s got to take care of the ball. He’s got to dominate the rebounds and get down there low and score.

“And, people have got to help him out. I mean, he had 19 and we had 40. Somebody’s got to step up. I don’t know if it’s going to be a freshman, or who it’s going to be. Somebody’s got to step up and help out.”

Morgan (1-0) was paced by Tyler Janes, who tallied 15 points.

Marty Sidwell chipped in with 12, and Owen Bowen netted eight.

“It was a great win and a fun group to coach,” Copeland said. “We’re extremely talented although we don’t have much varsity experience.

“Our big time returning varsity letterman Marty Sidwell played an outstanding basketball game. He brought the energy and the effort. He got our guys in the right spot. He kept us composed early which is something that really needed to happen with a bunch of inexperienced varsity guys.”

Sparked by Sidwell’s seven first-quarter points, Morgan staked itself to a 10-9 advantage. Huck and Huffman had all of Warren’s points, five and four, respectively.

In the second quarter, Huffman had the hot hand with seven points as Warren led for most of the eight minutes. With time running out, though, Bowen of Morgan had a steal and layup to tie the score at 21-all at the half.

“After that big steal at the half to get us tied, I thought our guys really settled down after that,” Copeland said.

During the first minute of the third quarter, the 6-foot-5 Huffman drained a triple to give the Warren the lead again. Late in the stanza, Jared Hall buried a three to give the Warriors an eight-point advantage, 31-23.

But the Raiders closed out the period with a 7-2 run to reduce the deficit to three, 33-30.

At the start of the fourth, Sidwell scored to cut it to one. Then, Morgan took the lead, 36-35, on Bowen’s trey. After that, the Raiders never looked back as they converted 13 freebies.

“This is a great place to come and win,” Copeland said. “They have a real rich tradition here, and I’m really proud of our guys for growing up in game one.”

Warren attempted only nine free-throws (made four) in the contest.

“I’ll have to look at the tape and see how many shots we took there down in the paint,” Maddox said. “I’d like to get to the line a little bit more than that.

“Looks like it’s going to be a learning process as we go here.”