Isaiah Morgan’s 42 lifts Devils to another state tournament

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Ravenswood’s Isaiah Morgan, pictured here guarding Van’s Taylor Jarrell during Wednesday’s Class A, Region IV co-final, went off for a career-high 42 points in the Red Devils’ 87-60 victory. Morgan hit 14 of 16 from the field, including 7 of 8 from downtown, while also draining all seven of his foul shots.

RAVENSWOOD — A lot of games have been played by Ravenswood’s senior class at the “Pit” during their careers, but the Red Devils saved their best for last as head coach Mick Price’s squad is heading back to the state tournament for a fourth consecutive campaign.

Isaiah Morgan poured in a career-high 42 points to help lead the 24-1 Red Devils to an easy 87-60 Class A, Region IV co-final triumph here Wednesday night versus Van.

With the victory, the Little Kanawha Conference champion Red Devils earned the No. 2 seed and will square off against fellow LKC program and No. 7 seed Webster County (18-6) at 1 p.m. next Thursday in the state quarterfinals inside the Charleston Civic Center.

The Bulldogs, who ended the campaign at 15-9, led just once and that came 54 ticks into the affair when Taylor Jarrell scored two of his team-high 24 points on an 8-foot turnaround jumper.

Blake Bennett followed that just 16 seconds later with a 3 thanks to an assist from Morgan, who then canned consecutive bombs as the Bulldogs called timeout and played from behind the rest of the way.

“We know Van was a good team and Jarrell is a fantastic player and we just had to slow him down, execute our gameplan, run up and down the court and we got it done tonight,” said Bennett, who finished with 10 points and five assists while guarding Jarrell most of the evening.

Although a 3 by Gavin Smith made it 9-5, Stephen Dawson kissed in an alley-oop pass from Bennett to counter the Van basket. Morgan’s putback after a Chase Swain steal and tough miss inside made it 15-9 and it was 18-11 when Morgan swished in another 3. Jarrell’s pull-up jumper closed the first quarter scoring at 18-13.

However, it was all Ravenswood after that. Morgan, who had 11 markers in the first stanza, tallied a baker’s dozen in the second and finished the first half 5 of 6 from deep as Van got outscored 27-12 and trailed 45-25 at intermission.

“You could just tell he was feeling it and the kids did a nice job getting the ball to him,” Price said of Morgan, who along with grabbing a game-high 10 boards, had a game-high three steals and converted 14 of 16 field goals, 7 of 8 3s and all seven of his charity stripe tosses. “You could just tell.He got in that groove and I’ve seen it all his life. When he gets like that, just get the ball to him and get out of the way because he can knock them down. When he’s shooting like that and we’re running and we’re swinging the ball, that group of kids is hard to beat.”

Morgan opened the second half right where he left off and made another 3. Following a Van intentional foul on Dawson, who had 13 points, seven boards and a game-high six assists, Alex Easthom came off the bench and got the first foul shot to fall.

Dawson checked back in after it was determined he was OK and scored six straight for a 55-30 lead at 4:43 of the third and the rout was on.

“This was our last game here as seniors and we just wanted this for our community to get this win in our last home game and just to make it to Charleston for our fourth year in a row,” Dawson stated.

By the time Lakin Tucker had a lay-in with 1:11 left in the third, it was 66-35. Morgan tacked on 12 more tallies in the third, which included a pair of three-point plays. He had three of those on the evening.

“This is probably the best of all,” Tucker said. “It’s awesome, incredible, but we’re not done yet. We’ve played together since we were little, 5 years old or whatever. He (Morgan) is obviously our leader, but we all lead the team at different times and play different roles. It’s a brotherhood.”

Jayden Rhodes, who was in early foul trouble, finished with 11 points and four assists for the victors.

Daniel Gibson, who beat the third quarter buzzer with a 3 two steps inside the halfcourt line, was the only other Bulldog to finish in double figures with 10 points. Teammate Brandon Moore had nine counters.

Fittingly, Morgan — who is trying to break the single-season state record for foul shooting percentage — walked off Mick Price Court for the final time in his career at 2:17 of the fourth after making a pair of free throws.

“I’d say you probably couldn’t script that any better, honestly,” Morgan admitted. “It’s a bittersweet thing. We’ve played here for four years and we’ve been blessed for every single game we’ve played here.

“It’s kind of sad on one hand. It’s our last one, but on the same token, we won and we are on to greater things. We’re ready to cap it off with a big win this year.”

Ravenswood, which scored eight of its first 11 points off Van turnovers, made 9 of 13 3s in the first half. Overall, RHS shot 27 of 46 (58.7 percent) and connected on 12 of 23 from long range.