Mustang Morgan Is Standing Tall At Any Court Position

There’s no doubt about who normally sets the tone for the Kalaheo boys basketball team on the defensive end of the floor. Since he was a sophomore, that duty has fallen on Derick Morgan.

Head coach Alika Smith made sure of it, after observing the relentless pressure provided by the 6-foot Morgan.

“He’s an excellent player,” Smith said of Morgan, who has started 32 straight games for Kalaheo dating back to the 2010-11 season. “He’s blossomed from his sophomore year to this year. He’s our shutdown guy. We usually put him on the other team’s best player, especially if he’s a guard.

“He’s improved so much that he does anything and everything.”

And Morgan likes his role as the defensive stopper. “It’s a lot of work sometimes, but I enjoy it – especially if their best player doesn’t score a lot of points. I push myself. If their guy doesn’t score a lot of points, we win.”

Morgan’s contributions have come in other areas, as well. He’s also averaging 10.5 points per game, offensively, and made good on 23 of his first 29 free throws during preseason – an impressive 79.2 shooting percentage from the charity stripe.

“We’re going to need them (free throws) when the time comes (for the post-season),” he said.

Free throw shooting was among the areas Morgan focused on during the summer.

“I tried to stay in the gym as much as I could,” he said. “I practiced the little things that are going to help me. I try to shoot 50 to 100 free throws a day.”

Morgan started playing basketball when he was 7 in St. Louis, Mo. His family quickly relocated to Kaneohe, where he maintained his love for the game. He also had two productive years on the Kalaheo football team before electing to concentrate on basketball his senior year.

Morgan, who lists Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as his favorite NBA players, would love to continue playing basketball after high school. “I’d love to play in college, and I’m looking forward to it.”

For the present, there’s more work to be done with the Mustangs. Kalaheo was to open its OIA slate last Thursday versus McKinley, with a game against Moanalua to follow last Saturday. This week, Kalaheo hosts Anuenue Wednesday before a Friday road date with Kalani.

After a busy preseason, the Mustangs are relieved to finally begin the regular one, according to Morgan. Kalaheo won the Division II state title last February and will compete in Division I at tournament time this year.

“We still need more time together,” he said. “We hardly practice because we’ve been playing so many games, but I feel like we’ll win everything once we get our chemistry back. We’re ready. Let’s get this party on the road.”