FULTON | Morgan Township grew accustomed to pain this season, so as they filed toward the bus to travel for a consolation pizza lunch, no one showed any signs of hurt.
Morgan Twp.'s girls basketball team fell way behind very early and, despite playing point-for-point for the second and third quarters, committed 36 turnovers and fell 61-39 to heavily favored Oregon-Davis in the first semifinal of the Class A Caston Regional on Saturday morning.
The Bobcats (22-3) led 9-0 and 21-2 in the first 4:30 of the game.
“It’s hard to simulate their speed and aggressiveness in practice,” Morgan Twp. coach Kevin Krieger said. “We have always talked about playing at a championship level, and that was championship-level basketball. The girls can learn from this and bring this intensity to summer practice.”
Seven of the nine rotation players for Morgan Twp. (14-11) missed games with injuries this season, and two players suffered ACL tears before Christmas. It wasn’t until about five weeks ago that the team found its rhythm, winning eight of its last 10 before falling Saturday.
After her team fell behind 21-2 with eight turnovers, Trina Coleman, who dislocated her left shoulder and missed three games in the regular season, helped Morgan outscore O-D 14-12 for the remainder of the first half. The teams scored 12 points each in the third quarter.
“We didn’t get off to a slow start; Oregon-Davis got off to a great start,” Krieger said. “Once we got a few baskets we relaxed and played them even, which I’m proud of.”
When Morgan was clicking, Oregon-Davis was piling up turnovers, with
23 for the game. Coleman took the ball to the basket, and the Cherokees were rebounding better, especially with 6-foot-3 sophomore reserve Paige Moore underneath.
Morgan Lippens attempted a 3-pointer that would have cut the O-D lead to 10 in the second quarter, but it fell short and worn-down Morgan Twp., with no free throw attempts in the first half, trailed 33-16 at halftime.
After a second consecutive sectional title, the Cherokees again lost to the Bobcats in the regional semifinal round. Morgan loses just one senior, starting guard Courtney Osby, but O-D also had only one senior.
“If we didn’t let them get on that run, it would have been a lot closer, and we know we’ll be back next year,” Coleman said. “Overall I’m happy with how things turned out with all of our injuries this season. For us to even be here, I’m proud.”
Coleman led Morgan with 18 points and six rebounds. Hannah Murphy, who missed seven games with injury, added eight points.
“(Coleman) was banged up from the first game on, and she just put her nose down and worked,” Krieger said. “She’s one of the best players in Northwest Indiana, and she’ll continue to improve.”