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Oct. 1, 2022

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Basketball journey continues for Seton Catholic’s Morgan

Senior worked his way back from broken ankle

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:

Of all the thoughts that passed through Delano Morgan’s head during his yearlong recovery, one recurred.

He was back on the court. It was a Seton Catholic home game. The game was on the line. Morgan got the ball with the shot clock winding down, and hits the game-winner. The crowd went wild.

Daydreams like that were the fuel that drove Morgan, a senior captain and four-year varsity player for Seton Catholic’s boys basketball team, through each step of his rehab from a broken ankle he suffered during his junior football season.

“It’s something that helps me wake up every day, gives me motivation,” Morgan said. “Without basketball I don’t know what I would do.”

Two months since returning to the court, Morgan is confident as ever as the Cougars’ enter the preseason amid their best season in program history.

But there were times throughout his recovery, and once he returned to the court when confidence was hard to come by. Confidence in his game, and confidence in the strength of his ankle, have been a back-and-forth battle.

During his junior football season, Morgan went to tackle an opponent, who when he fell, landed on Morgan’s foot. He heard a pop in his ankle and was confused — he’d never broken a bone before. And after he was helped to the sideline, the pain registered his foot sprained, or badly rolled.

But Morgan stepped off the trainer’s table and couldn’t put any pressure on it.

“I was like, wow, something’s up, something’s wrong with my ankle,” Morgan said.

A doctor’s visit and X-ray later determined it was a fractured fibula. Not long after, he had surgery. A metal plate was placed in, along with three screws.

That road to recovery was filled with doctor’s visits, physical therapy and a lot of time on the couch, unable to do anything.

“That was tough for me, because I’m active and so used to doing sports like basketball and football,” Morgan said, “but yeah I just had to sit on the couch, watch TV, elevate, ice, take pain pills and antibiotics.”

Once summer of 2018 hit, he was able to walk on it again. By summer’s end, determined to come back stronger, he began waking up early and going to 24 Hour Fitness. Not only was he going to come back, he thought, he was going to come back a more polished player.

After all, his biggest goal beyond high school was to play college basketball — a dream he still works toward.

For Morgan, improving his game meant becoming a better shooter. A near-double-double threat and inside presence for Seton Catholic as a sophomore, the 6-foot-2 Morgan wanted to become a bigger outside threat.

He studied his favorite NBA player, Golden State’s Klay Thompson. Morgan focused on the mechanics of his shot — the quick release, the robot-like efficiency– and applied it to his own shot in the gym.

Once school began, his busiest days began with an alarm at 6 a.m., followed by the gym, school, practice, and physical therapy.

“I’ve seen my game develop into more of an outside perimeter player,” Morgan said. “I’m able to dribble the ball better, shoot better, that’s why I’m more on the outside.”

This season, Morgan is part of a group of as many as eight players who play every morning before school. They refer to themselves as “the breakfast club,” a nod to a morning workout Michael Jordan led as the foundation for his six NBA championships.

The hard work caught the eye of first-year coach Kris Small.

“No one has worked harder than he has, even to be able to contribute at the level he has this year,” Small said.

Morgan made his debut in the sixth game of the season, a Dec. 14 matchup against R.A. Long. Since then, he’s worked to overcome the fears of putting too much pressure on his ankle. That’s where his perimeter game has flourished.

Small called it a “blessing in disguise.”

Lately, Morgan has hit his stride. He’s emerged as one of the Cougars’ top 3-point shooters and is playing his best basketball of the season, Small said. And it intersects with the team’s postseason run, which continues in a loser-out game at Hoquiam on Monday, weather pending. The Cougars lost their first 1A district tournament game against Montesano at W.F. West High School on Thursday.

When Seton Catholic had its senior night, it all started to sink in. The journey, the recovery and just how much he cherished playing the game he’d long professed his love for.

He walked out to mid-court with his parents for the pregame ceremony to honor the team’s five seniors before the Cougars played their final regular season game against Trico League opponent Stevenson. The moment wasn’t lost on Morgan once he stepped onto the court.

“I realized it was the last night on the home court as a senior,” Morgan said. “I felt like all the confidence in the world walking out with my mom, my dad.”

He gave his mom a rose. The three posed for pictures. Then Morgan went out and scored a career-high 23 points in just over two quarters to lead Seton to a rout.

The screws were still in his ankle, but his worries were a thing of the past.

When Small took Morgan out for the last time early in the third quarter, he turned to his captain.

“I told him, ‘we gotta take you out before you set the building on fire,’ ” Small said.

Hearing the crowd go wild with each basket was more than enough for Morgan.

Columbian Staff Writer

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