Boulder City starts strong at tournament

Austin Morgan is still recovering from two torn ligaments in his left ankle.

On Thursday, the sophomore guard refused to let any injury stop him from making clutch plays for Boulder City’s boys basketball team.

Morgan hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and two insurance free throws in a 40-39 win over host Lake Mead, then helped Boulder City roll to a 54-10 rout of Lutheran (Calif.) to win both of their opening-day games at the Lake Mead Holiday Classic.

“He’s been hurt for two weeks, and we’re just trying to slowly work him back into it,” Boulder City coach John Balistere said of Morgan. “Sometimes you just go with your gut, and he can shoot the ball. We’re a lot better when he’s on the floor.”

Boulder City followed its 2-0 start to the tournament with a 59-44 nonleague loss at Chaparral on Thursday night.

Morgan’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave Boulder City a 36-34 lead against Lake Mead with just less than two minutes to play. He then sank two free throws with 18.9 seconds remaining to give Boulder City a 40-37 cushion.

“After the first one falls, it’s a lot easier for the second one,” Morgan said of his free throws. “I just knew I had to take the pressure and deal with it.”

Morgan finished with 10 points against Lake Mead, and Nate Hafen supplied six points and seven rebounds. Boulder City (2-2) had nine players score.

“Not only do we have a balance of shooters, we’re very interchangeable,” Morgan said.

Boulder City’s depth helped overcome a 23-point effort from Lake Mead guard Justin Yamzon, who shot 10-for-11 at the free-throw line. Caleb Pitman added 12 points and two blocks for Lake Mead.

Against Lutheran, Boulder City’s Kaleb Bailey scored all 12 of his points in the first half, and teammate D.J. Koopman finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Tanner Howell added 11 points for the Eagles, and Morgan had six points and three rebounds.

“We’re big and we’re deep, and we’ve just got to learn to trust each other and play as a team,” Balistere said. “We’ve got enough guys who can play multiple positions.”

The 12-team tournament resumes at 10:30 a.m. today, with the Blue Bracket title game set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mead.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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