ZACK STOYCOFF

Sports Sunday Correspondent



Sequoyah girls basketball coach Russell Morgan didn’t want to stop coaching boys. And he certainly wasn’t planning a venture to the other side of the high school basketball coin.

“I told myself I was never going to coach girls,” he said.

A veteran of boys basketball, Morgan played the role of assistant boys coach at three Texas schools before taking an assistant position with the girls squad of Sequoyah and eventually becoming its head coach.

That was more than three years ago.

“My wife got a great job at the hospital in Claremore. That’s what got us up here,” he said. “That’s when I took the job as the assistant girls coach.”

It wasn’t exactly what he had planned, but his view changed quickly upon working with the team.

“I kind of just fell in love with them,” he said. “I’ve never had a group play and get out for practice and games like these girls.”

Now in his third year at Sequoyah’s helm, Morgan spent a season assisting Stacy Risenhoover before taking over the program.

Before that, coaching girls was something new. He spent time with boys programs in Texas, including at Belt High School, which plays in the state’s largest classification.

Today, Morgan says there is not much difference between coaching girls and boys.

“I pretty much coach them up as I would boys,” he said. “Everything I do comes from what I have learned under my three other coaches.”

One thing for sure, he says, Sequoyah’s girls show they can outwork any group of boys he has coached.

Away from the hardwood, Morgan’s transition to north of the Red River has begun to feel more like home than he expected — aside from a small handful of details.

“This area of Oklahoma is great,” he said. “It reminds me a lot of the hill country in Austin.”

One of the differences, he says, is one of the largest.

“I was born a (University of Texas) Longhorns fan,” he said. “I will die a Longhorns fan.”

Living in Sooner country has its obvious drawbacks for Longhorns fans, he said, especially when the Oklahoma-Texas football rivalry kicks into high gear.

“Every year, coach Campbell (Sequoyah assistant football Bob Campbell) and I have a running bet. If the Longhorns win, he wears a Longhorn shirt to school. If the Sooners win, I wear a Sooner shirt to school,” Morgan said, pausing a moment. “I had to wear a Sooner shirt to school this year.

“If we’re not playing the Sooners, I’ll be rooting for them.î

Morgan, whose Lady Eagles stand at 4-3 entering the Christmas break, makes no hesitation of what is desired from his team this season. The goal is the playoffs, he says.

“I feel going into the season our team’s expectation is to win the conference,” he said.

There are a few obstacles to overcome.

With teams like Inola (5-2) and Verdigris (3-4) standing in the way, there are few opportunities to rest.

“We’ve got a tough schedule,” he said. “The Will Rogers Conference is one of the toughest conferences around.

“We’re definitely going to be battle-tested if we get to the playoffs.”

The Lady Eagles have returned every player from last year, including standout Megan Fuller. The 6-foot junior is leading the team in nearly every category.

“She’s, on defense, fantastic,” Morgan said. “Not many people can score many points on her.”

Sequoyah is outscoring its opponents by 13 points per game, holding them to a 33-point average.

Fuller has a lot to do with that, Morgan said, averaging 12.7 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game — leading the team in those categories.

Then, there’s Melissa Goad. One of two seniors — along with Johanna Weast — Goad is leading the team in assists and forced turnovers, cementing her role as a keystone on both sides of the ball.

“She’s our girl that guards the best player on every team,” Morgan said. “And she does so much for us on offense as far as handling the ball.

Morgan calls Weast “our workhorse.”

“Shes a bigger scoring threat this year than she ever has been,” he said, citing her 8.7 average.

Sequoyah returns to the court after the holiday to host Verdigris on Jan. 8.