Prep boys' basketball: Morgan's Miles draws motivation from playoff setback

Boys basketball • Senior hungry for a state championship.
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Morgan • Jake Miles awoke from the uncomfortable sleep and rolled over. The feeling immediately enveloped him like a sickness deep in his stomach. As he lay in his bed, unmotivated to rise, the Morgan guard replayed in his head the previous day's game, a loss to Hurricane that had knocked the Trojans out of the playoffs.

Miles had been Morgan's top scorer throughout the season, and the Trojans had cruised undefeated through Region 11. They had been primed, it seemed, to make a deep run in the Class 3A tournament and perhaps even deliver the school's first title since 1974.

But Hurricane's speed had been too great and their physicality overwhelming. The Tigers held Miles to 11 points, eight under his season average, and beat the Trojans 54-43 in the second round of last season's playoffs. In his bed, Miles thought about missed opportunities.

"At that moment, it seems like nothing else matters," Miles said. "In perspective, there's a lot of things more important than a basketball game, but at that moment, you feel like you're a failure. I was devastated."

It was there, before his roommates finally dragged him from his bed, that he determined there would be a different ending to his senior season. He was ready to work even harder, to become an even better leader. He vowed the Trojans would be the last team standing.

"You're thinking you've only got one more year left," Miles said. "That fire started burning in me to go get a state championship."

Miles is making good on that vow 11 months later. The senior has upped his scoring average to more than 26 points per game. Entering the week, he has scored 30 or more points six times and his low is 18 this season.

"Sometimes you just wonder, 'Man, how does he do that?'" Morgan coach Jim Wiscombe said. "When we played Tooele, he played 17 minutes and had 39 points. How do you do that?"

And Morgan is winning. At 14-2 entering the week, a trip to the playoffs likely awaits. It is there, in the postseason, where Miles will judge the Trojans. Only then will he be able to truly see how far they have come since the loss to Hurricane.

"I don't care how many points I average. I don't care about my stats," Miles said. "I just want a state championship."

But the story of how Miles got here, among the state's top scorers and leading a team good enough to view anything but a title as a disappointment, did not begin in his bed on a cold morning in late February a season ago.

It started when Miles was in second grade. It was then that his father introduced Miles to the shooting program that would turn him into one of the premier shooters in the state.

There are 18 stations marked on the large court on the side of the Miles home. To move from one station to the next, one must make five in a row. Miles did this morning after morning, year after year, even after he'd become a high school star.

"[My dad] would always come home from work, and he'd say, 'Did you do your workout today?'" Miles said. "If we said no, he'd just be like, 'Welp, I guess you don't wanna be good.' It was just a guilt trip."

Those long hours spent on the concrete next to the house may earn Miles an opportunity to play in college. He's been in contact with Utah State, Dixie State and Utah Valley, and after an LDS mission, there's nothing he'd rather do once he graduates than continue playing basketball.

Before any of that, though, there still is this season, an opportunity laid at his feet. But until he takes the court in the playoffs, all Miles can do is hope. Hope he is ready to lead the Trojans like he couldn't a year ago. Hope the work will pay off.

"I was never the quickest in my grade or the most athletic," Miles said. "I could never jump the highest. But I've worked hard."

Editor's note: The story has been changed to correct Morgan's opponent in last season's playoffs.