With 46 seconds remaining in a district championship game, St. Pius X senior Nick Morgan walked off the Warriors’ home court for perhaps the final time.
His teammates stood up, and he slapped each one of their hands before taking a seat on the bench. The student section applauded him with a loud ovation.
When he discussed that moment later, Morgan nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders — as if it were like any other day.
It was far from it.
In the biggest game of his senior season, Morgan buried seven three-pointers, lifting the Warriors to a 68-57 victory against Hogan Prep.
“I just kept shooting,” Morgan said. “And they kept going in.”
There’s never a bad time for a three-pointer, but each of Morgan’s seemed to come exactly when the Warriors needed them most.
After airballing his first attempt —which he later joked almost made him stop shooting — Morgan made his next four in the first half while the Warriors built a 14-point halftime edge.
As Hogan Prep senior Antoine Stanley led the Rams’ best comeback attempt — he finished with 22 points — Morgan answered. Who else?
He made a trio of long-distance shots in the span of 80 seconds, re-upping the Warriors’ lead to 18. Morgan finished with 21 points. He made his final seven shots.
“Seven!” Warriors coach Chad Wright replied when told of Morgan’s total. “Wow, that’s incredible. Wow.”
He was helped offensively by a complete Warriors effort that included only six turnovers.
While Morgan took care of the damage from the perimeter, senior guards Brian Kaufmann and Mac Mason made a concerted effort to drive the ball to the basket.
Kaufmann completed a pair of three-point plays on his way to 24 points. Mason scored 17 more, with seven coming from the free-throw line for the Warriors, 18-6.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Wright said. “We knew we didn’t want to be running up and down the floor with them. We knew if we played our game, we’d have some advantages offensively, and we took advantage of our matchups.”
Hogan Prep, which finished the season 16-12 a year after reaching the Class 3 championship game, misfired on 13 of its 15 three-point attempts. Juniors Rashid Ewing and Amaad Wainright each added 10 points.
St. Pius X girls 62, University Academy 34
St. Pius X senior forward Danielle Kaullen didn’t have a scientific answer for it, but something about this time of the season is especially appealing to her and her teammates.
An up-and-down regular season apparently didn’t change that.
The Warriors won their fifth consecutive game and their fourth straight Class 3, District 15 championship with ease Saturday, pulling away for a 28-point victory.
Kaullen led the way, scoring 29 points, including 21 before halftime. Riana Everidge added 13.
“You just get to the playoffs, and you don’t want it to end,” Kaullen said. “I just feel like we know if we lose, there’s no other shot, so this is it.”
The Warriors, 17-11, will face Cameron at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Excelsior Springs High School.