Trojans start fast, then hold on

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
RUSSELLVILLE – Golden Tiger fans are accustomed to seeing a player wearing No. 10 light it up from three-point range in their home gym.
Ordinarily, the player in question is junior guard Cory Trapp, who made a total of 18 treys in Russellville's first two home games.
Friday night, however, the No. 10 putting on a clinic from behind the arc was wearing the wrong colors.
Muscle Shoals guard Reed Morgan made four straight threes to open the game and finished the night 6-for-8 from downtown, scoring 28 points as the tenth-ranked Trojans survived a late Russellville rally to win 68-52.
Morgan's early shooting display staked Muscle Shoals (15-2, 1-1 Class 5A, Area 16) to a 12-0 lead, and he finished with 19 of the Trojans' 21 first-quarter points.
"I was just glad it was our side shooting like that instead of theirs, because they're certainly capable of doing the exact same thing," Muscle Shoals coach Dennis Conner said. "Reed shot the ball really well. I guess it was just one of those nights you dream about, where you're just unconscious."
Morgan hit all seven of his shot attempts in the first quarter, including five threes.
"You're hoping that something like that can't last for four quarters, but at the same time part of you is thinking, 'It's going to be a long night if he continues to shoot the ball that well," Russellville coach Michael Smith said.
The Golden Tigers (9-3, 0-2) weathered the early storm and trimmed the lead to 21-17 on a tip-in by Jermaine Bates with 6:00 left in the first half. They failed to make another field goal the rest of the half, managing just four free throws as Muscle Shoals opened up a 40-21 lead.
"The last six minutes of the first half is where we hurt ourselves," Smith said. "We were pretty close to being in the bonus, and I wanted us to penetrate and try to get to the foul line. We were shooting our free throws pretty well, but we just didn't attack the basket enough."
Morgan's sixth and final trey made it 48-24 just two minutes into the second half, and the Trojans led 54-34 at the end of the third quarter.
The lead was still 20 early in the fourth when Russellville made one last push. A basket by Nate Dunstan and back-to-back three-point plays by Justin Thorne and Terence Smith trimmed the lead to 59-47 with 4:23 remaining.
Thorne nailed a three moments later to get Russellville within single digits, but the Golden Tigers ran out of gas down the stretch as Muscle Shoals made 7-of-8 free throws to seal the win.
"We expended a lot of energy to get back in the game," Michael Smith said. "If we had played with that type of energy and defensive intensity earlier in the game, things might have turned out differently."
Defensive intensity was not an issue for the Trojans. Greg Johnson and Adrian McCord helped hold Trapp, Russellville's leading scorer at 17 points per game, without a field goal. He didn't even attempt a three-pointer until the fourth quarter.
"We tried to have somebody right on Cory at all times, because he's such an unbelievable shooter," Conner said. "The dangerous part about that is, they have a bunch of other guys who can shoot it, too, and you can't do that to everybody."
Thorne finished with 16 points to lead Russellville, and Smith added 12. Dunstan had eight,, and Siran Winston added seven.
Johnson had 14 points for the Trojans, and Ralston Turner added 12.