By Sam Kombrink
Covering my first Missouri High School State Tournament so far has been a new experience for me. But for the Bulldogs of Grandview, with a record of (28-2) it just so happened to be another day at the office.
The Bulldogs took the prize Friday afternoon with a 66-45 win over the Logan-Rogersville Wildcats in the Class 4 semifinals held at JQH Arena in Springfield. Logan-Rogersville is a school located in the Springfield metropolitan area.
Grandview has their eyes on the prize, looking to go back to back. For the second time in school history, this team looks primed for another state title.
The game got out to a fast start with Junior shooting guard, (#32) Reggie Morris hitting nothing but net. Morris was the hot hand, shooting 4-4 on 3-pointers in the first half. Morris ended up with 14 points, shooting 7-11 from the floor.
Other Bulldogs who had a big impact on today’s game was the 6’6″ Freshman Taj Manning (#5). Manning was a force to be reckoned with, as Logan-Rogersville had no answer for him working the glass. Manning finished the game leading the team with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. The future is bright for Taj Manning.
After the game, I was able to attend Grandview’s postgame press conference. It started off with Head Coach Reggie Morris thanking his assistant coaches for preparing his players for today’s game. He was proud of how his team listened to the game plan, and how they came out to play on “a very high level.”
Coach Morris went on to talk about Senior Guard Deandre Sorrells (#10). “Deandre did a good job of dissecting their 1-3-1 zone. Today he did what he needed to do to allow Reggie to hit some big shots throughout the first half.”
Coach Morris also spoke of Manning’s performance. “It was complete team effort. I can’t also go without mentioning the production of Freshman Taj Manning. “
“We are very, very happy to be where we are. We know we have a great opponent in St. Mary’s tomorrow that we have to prepare for. We will try to cap this off by completing what we set out to do,” said Morris.
When asked how he felt getting off to a hot start in the first half, Morris responded, “I just came out understanding what I needed to do for the team and took my shots. But I didn’t just go out firing. We needed somebody to get hot and keep it flowing,” he said. “Last year I kinda heated up, so I figured, why not do it again.”
Sorrells was asked whether past experience playing in Springfield helped. “It helps a lot. We had the mindset to keep our composure and play our game. Don’t worry about the crowd, just play between the lines.”
When asked if a dunk play at tip-off rattled the team at all, Sorrells responded, “We’re a great team. Plays like that don’t happen all the time. It’s just two points, and we just knew to do what we do on the defensive end to get it started.”
I asked if the Bulldog’s experience is what gave them the edge in the game, Sorrells said, “I wouldn’t say the experience. We’re just an all-around great team.”
Next up for Grandview is the Dragons of St. Mary’s High School from St. Louis, with a record of (18-12). The game starts at 2:40 pm at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The Dragons match up well with the Bulldogs. But I think St. Mary’s will have a hard time stopping Grandview’s outside shots and containing Freshman Taj Manning down low. Tomorrow I expect Grandview to repeat as State Champions, claiming their second in school history.