Rain
47°
Rain
Hi 49° | Lo 41°

Phoenix Rising: Sharon Academy Scoring Machine Closes in on 1,000 Career Points

Sharon’s Trenton Morrison charges through the defense of Mid Vermont Christian’s Anthony LaPlaca on Monday night in Quechee. Morrison leads the Upper Valley in scoring. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Sharon’s Trenton Morrison charges through the defense of Mid Vermont Christian’s Anthony LaPlaca on Monday night in Quechee. Morrison leads the Upper Valley in scoring. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

— Despite entering the Sharon Academy boys basketball team’s next game needing just 20 points to reach 1,000, Trenton Morrison has been a relatively quiet force during his time with the Phoenix.

As more attention turns to the senior guard approaching the milestone, his teammates have been commanding more recognition, too.

With Morrison averaging an Upper Valley-high 23.9 points per game, Sharon (5-3) has already matched its win total from last season and represents its best mark through eight contests since 2007-08. The Phoenix are fourth in the Vermont Division IV standings despite playing in the difficult Central Vermont League, featuring D-III contenders Rivendell and Williamstown.

A big reason is Morrison, who scored 31 points on opening night at Cabot and added 41 points in a late-December game at Websterville. The Phoenix are outscoring opponents by an average margin of just a basket, 61-59, with Morrison accounting for nearly 40 percent of his team’s points.

As has been the case for most of his four-year varsity career, those involved with the games usually don’t realize how much of an impact Morrison is making until they look at the box score afterward.

“He’s a special player and a natural scorer, but I think the thing that stands out most about Trenton is his humility,” said Sharon coach Blake Fabrikant, whose tenure began with Morrison’s freshman season. “He never gloats or brags and doesn’t put himself above his teammates. He’s about as silent as a high school basketball star can get.”

As Morrison’s grand total of seven free throws this season might attest, Fabrikant describes his captain’s style as unorthodox. With dashing speed and nary a glint of hesitation, Morrison is normally in front of the defense for a layup long before it could be in position to potentially commit a foul.

While Morrison can certainly operate out of a set offense and hit from the outside — he sank four 3-pointers during the Phoenix’ home rout of Cabot on Jan. 7 — he relishes his role as a dagger in transition.

“I’m usually not going to pull up for a jumper in transition; I just take it right to the hoop for a layup,” Morrision said before practice yesterday, one day after netting 18 points in Sharon’s 52-45 win at Mid Vermont Christian, which sits one spot behind Sharon in the D-IV standings. “(Driving the lane quickly) is probably the most natural thing for me to do, because I’m usually the fastest, or one of the fastest, guys out on the court.”

Despite his speed, Morrison’s development took time. As a non-starting freshman, he averaged just 3.4 points per game until erupting for 20 in a late-January contest at Chelsea and adding 15 a week later against Rochester. Morrison finished his rookie season with 110 points, third on the team.

“Like most freshmen, he was a little nervous out there at first,” Fabrikant said. “Then all of a sudden he had a 20-point night off the bench, and I knew it wasn’t a fluke when he (reached double figures) again in the next game.

“Sophomore season was when his natural abilities really started to show up. Opponents didn’t know about him and there wasn’t a lot of pressure on him every night. He really developed his outside shot that night; I remember one game he went 6-for-8 from beyond the (3-point) arc.”

Although the word was out on Morrison’s skills, he still managed 18.4 ppg last season while drawing double coverage against most opponents. With no one else scoring more than 5.1 points per game for TSA, the team finished the regular season 10 games under .500 and suffered a 37-point loss in the first round against eventual state finalist Twinfield.

Thanks to the emergence of several underclassmen, results could pan out much differently for Sharon this season. Morrison’s supporting cast includes freshman Jay Knoerlein, who matched the senior with 18 against Mid Vermont and whose aggressive approach in transition is reminiscent of Morrison’s. Six-foot-1 sophomore Brandon Tracy has been a staunch defensive presence, issuing eight blocks against the Eagles and scoring 10 points per game. Tanner James, also a sophomore, is scoring 8.5 per night while contributing five assists per game, a team high.

“The biggest difference for us this year is that we have more depth and overall skill,” Fabrikant said. “Whereas in the past it could be a one-man show with Trenton, now when teams double-team him, we have enough skill that we can hurt you in other ways.”

A Tunbridge native, Morrison said strong participation from Sharon players in a South-Royalton-based summer league last year helped the team develop familiarity and chemistry.

“The thing about Sharon is, you have kids from all different towns at the school and the ones who played basketball (in youth league) usually didn’t play together and didn’t necessarily learn the game the same way,” said Morrison, who’s been playing in Tunbridge since third grade. “I think it really helped that so many guys came out for the South Royalton league, because we started getting to know each other and get that cohesiveness. If you watch us, you can see that we’re pretty cohesive this year.”

Morrison would become Sharon’s second 1,000-point scorer, joining 2005 graduate Jackson Ellis, who finished with 1,104 career points.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.