TRINITY — Brandon Roberts didn't get the start he wanted.
Two early fouls. A few missed shots.
Some first-game jitters.
But once Roberts got those out of the way, the clinic was on.
Making his West Morgan High debut, Roberts poured in 34 points while leading the Rebels past rival East Lawrence 71-64 Tuesday night.
"Mainly, it was a mental thing," said Roberts, who missed the second half of last season after transferring to West Morgan from Austin. "Being excited about the first game of the new season, It was kind of overwhelming."
"There were some jitters. I told myself not to be nervous. Of course, you want to impress everyone, but you've got to calm down."
Once the nerves were pushed aside, Roberts looked like the player of old — splitting defenders in the lane with an explosive first step.
There was little East Lawrence (0-1) could do to slow him down. Roberts scored 30 points in the final three quarters, and most of those came off dribble-drive penetration.
"Brandon is a very special player," West Morgan coach Mike Henson said. "He's handled some adversity, but he fits in well here. Brandon is a great student, and walking the halls, he's not just a basketball player. He's a student who is well-liked by his peers, and he enjoys being here. That's the most important thing."
West Morgan (1-0) entered the season with a new hype and high expectations. The Rebels showed why.
Going 10 deep on the bench, West Morgan created havoc with pressure defense, constantly disrupting passing lanes while creating turnovers at an incredible clip.
The aggressive style worked. West Morgan carried a one-point lead into halftime before outscoring East Lawrence 18-5 in the third period.
"We've got a great supporting cast," Henson said. "Now, we didn't execute as well as I would have liked tonight, but I am proud of our defensive effort. That's the way we're going to play. We're going to scrap, fight and play fast."
West Morgan's supporting cast made its presence known. Post players Dustin Morgan and Caleb Hazen made some shots in the lane early in the second half, giving the Rebels' guards some open looks on the perimeter.
Morgan finished with 10 points and Hazen added eight. R.J. Young added 12 points for the Rebels.
Even though West Morgan led by at least 10 points for most of the second half, East Lawrence made a late run. Malik Garth pulled the Eagles within six with less three a minutes to play.
But Roberts quickly took care of business, scoring three unanswered baskets to put the game out of reach.
"Being back on the floor, it was a great feeling," Roberts said. "Having the crowd back there supporting us, and coach pushing us, it was great. This is a great team to be a part of, and I think we have a chance to some great things."
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