Tag Archives: Jon Morgan

LaFayette rambles past Generals behind third quarter dominance

LaFayette 69, Heritage-Catoosa 56

Region 6 bragging rights and first-place were on the line Tuesday night up in Ringgold where Heritage-Catoosa (3-3) hosted LaFayette (4-0).

Knowing that the offense revolves around 6-foot-4 senior forward Jon Morgan and 5-foot-11 junior point guard Alex Kelehear, the Generals opened up the game face guarding Morgan.

It took the Ramblers a moment to figure out the defense and get Morgan the ball, so instead he decided to get it himself off a rebound and score a tough leaner in the lane to open up his scoring and give LaFayette an early 9-6 lead.

Andrew Pendergrass and Morgan combined for 14 first quarter points while the Generals looked to play through 6-foot-5, 225-pound post Cole Wilcox. The UGA baseball-signee went to work early, showing his physicality and passing ability. He and Adam Thacker attacked from the post while Will Allen put in five of his 10 points in the opening quarter.

Kelehear dished out four of his game-high six assists in the first quarter including hitting Morgan for a three to take a 17-14 lead into the second quarter.

The Ramblers started to gain some separation in the second quarter once Kelehear started to hunt his own shot. A transition layup and a pull-up three sparked a 7-2 run to put the LaFayette lead at 24-16 with 6:31 remaining.

With the game slowly inching away, Coach Kevin Terry pounded the ball back inside to Wilcox who worked the high post and found Thacker for an and-1 to stem the tide.

The Generals cut the lead to 31-30 and were about to carry their momentum into the second half but instead it was Kelehear isoing and finding a three off a beautiful reverse pivot to give the Ramblers a 34-30 halftime lead.

Opening up the third quarter, Heritage decided to go Triangle-and-Two on Kelehear and Morgan who scored eight apiece in the first half. Instead, the defensive strategy backfired with LaFayette breaking off a 9-0 run to push ahead 43-30 at the 5:41 mark. With all the focus on Kelehear and Morgan, Pendergrass feasted. After knocking down a handful of foul line jumpers in the opening 16 minutes, Pendergrass opened up to the three-point line where he sniped three long balls and finished with 10 of his team-high 18 points in the quarter.

LaFayette had landed the knockout punch with a 21-8 third quarter, capped by yet another Kelehear iso just before the buzzer, giving the Ramblers an insurmountable 55-38 advantage.

Heritage, who struggled to score from beyond the arc, finally loosened up the defense a little with two late threes, but had to force the ball inside to Wilcox as their only consistent scorer and playmaker. Wilcox scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the final quarter and finished with 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.

My Take

I fully expect LaFayette to win out and run the table in Region 6. There could be a slip up here or there but they are the best team with the most momentum rolling over from last year’s Sweet 16 trip. Alex Kelehear was the real deal at point guard. At 5-foot-11, he’s probably best suited for D-III, NAIA, or the right fit at the D-II level. What he lacks in size and explosiveness, he makes up for with his actual skill and savvy. He could have easily scored 20+ but instead he chose to run the offense and play within himself. He handled the ball well and had a good zip on his passes, the type you see from the state’s best pocket passers. He picked apart Heritage anytime he had an isolation 1-on-1 opportunity. He was so good, hitting two buzzer beaters and assisting on one. He’s exactly who you want to have the ball in their hands at the end of a game. Jon Morgan has some bounce and is another player that could help out a small school. The lefty can knock down the deep ball (two threes), is an active rebounder with nice hands (9 rebounds) and can handle the ball when needed. Andrew Pendergrass is a pure jump shooter, meaning he hardly ever puts the ball on the ground and will catch-and-shoot. LaFayette is very good when he is on. His mid-range jumper was clicking from the first quarter and he expanded it to the three-point line in the second half. Do I think LaFayette can compete with the Upson-Lee’s and St. Pius’ of the world in Class AAAA? No I do not; but with the right draw, LaFayette could scare some teams and advance to the Sweet 16 again. Whoever they will play in Region 5 will likely have more athleticism then they will have seen all year. If Jon Morgan gets in foul trouble, I worry about their interior play. Dee Southern starts at “center”, but is only 5-foot-11. For a Cinderella run, Kelehear will have to hunt his offense more often, Morgan will need to play huge and Andrew Pendergrass must be lights out from deep.

Heritage-Catoosa just didn’t have enough outside shooting. I appreciate them force feeding Cole Wilcox and Adam Thacker inside. They are a good duo at that level. Wilcox got off to a nice start but left a ton of shots short at the rim. The Generals only played six players and really ran out of gas in the third quarter once the Ramblers hit them in the mouth to open.

Top Performers

LaFayette
Andrew Pendergrass – 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Jon Morgan – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block
Alex Kelehear – 15 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals
Dee Southern – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Vyshonn Daniel – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Heritage
Cole Wilcox – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks
Adam Thacker – 16 points, 9 rebounds
Will Allen – 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
Luke Grant – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block