RENO — Austin Morgan did just about everything except don Superman’s cape in the second half Friday night.
Morgan scored 26 of his 37 points during the final two quarters to carry Reno to a 76-72 victory over Cheyenne for the Class 4A boys state basketball championship at Lawlor Events Center.
"Austin Morgan, what can I say? He one-man-ganged us," Cheyenne coach Teral Fair said. "He made every big shot, every big free throw, every big play near the end of the (game), he made it."
Cheyenne (19-8) didn’t trail in the first half, and led by 15 points before the Huskies (26-6) rallied to cut the lead to 33-32 at the break. And it didn’t take Morgan long to give Reno its first lead, hitting a 3-pointer 10 seconds into the second half. Morgan had been 0-for-5 on 3s in the first half.
"I was pretty cold in the first half, but I wanted to get it going in the second half," Morgan said. "And luckily I got it going.
"I just try to do my part, and if that means trying to get a big bucket, I’ll try and do it."
Morgan shot 8-for-12 from the field in the second half, making 3 of 4 3-point attempts. He also made all 10 of his free-throw attempts in the game, including four in the final 19 seconds.
"Some guys don’t want to step to the free-throw line in that situation," Reno coach Kyle Schellin said. "Austin has lived his entire life to step to that free-throw line. He competes every practice like he did tonight. And that’s the reason he’s the player he is, because he’s a competitor and he has a will to win."
Cheyenne appeared headed to its second straight blowout win in the tournament, taking a 29-14 lead on a post bucket by Christian Lightbourne with 6:03 left in the first half.
But the Desert Shields managed only four points the rest of the half.
"It may have been a situation where they have a couple kids who have been in this kind of situation before, and they did a great job of maintaining their poise and their composure," Fair said. "The moment may have been a little too much for us in the first half."
Cheyenne didn’t fold, leading as late as the 4:46 mark of the fourth quarter after a spinning drive by Elijah Johnson made the score 63-62.
But OIek Czyz found Zach Smith open under the basket on the ensuing possession, and the Huskies went back ahead to stay. Cheyenne had some chances late, but couldn’t close the gap.
"That’s the game of basketball," Fair said. "Those shots that have been falling for us just weren’t going down tonight. I’m just really proud of my kids. I think we got a lot further than a lot of people anticipated."
Foul trouble limited the effectiveness of Cheyenne post players Lightbourne and Ricky Henry. Henry scored Cheyenne’s first eight points of the third quarter before picking up his fourth foul with 4:48 to go in the quarter.
"We never could get in a real flow for the game," Fair said. "They’re a great team. They won the championship. I don’t think it’s a situation where we lost it, they won it."
Lightbourne had 20 points, and Johnson had 19 points, eight rebounds and five steals for Cheyenne.
Czyz had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Reno, which also won the title in 2006.
"It feels so good," said Morgan, who saw time as a freshman in 2006. "The second time is even better. This time I feel like I was a real part of it."
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at email@example.com or (702) 380-4587.