The Monumental Return of Tylor Morton

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John Yeager

Tylor Morton (’16) prepares to inbound the ball during Arlington’s victory over Marysville-Getchell.

“I’ll be back for league.”

He told me this over and over. He didn’t care if I believed him.

Tylor Morton didn’t care if anyone believed him.

Suffering a completely broken tibula and fibula on October 24th in a fall league game, Morton, a senior basketball player at Arlington High School, has served as the Eagles’ sideline hype man, contributing to the team in the only way he has been able to: with his voice. The injury sustained by Arlington’s energetic point guard spurred several rumors around the school. At one point, his injury was being referred to as “career ending.” More optimistic gossipers talked of a possible return in late February. Morton had very different plans.

“They said I wasn’t playing this year,” said Morton. “I knew I was coming back.”

As the season progressed, the Arlington story was focused on Drew Bryson and Donavan Sellgren, two guards who have kept Arlington afloat with their high scoring output. Sellgren has led the Eagles in assists this season, and was third in the state of Washington for assists per game at one point. His versatility can be seen through his ability to score and pass the ball, but as a skilled shooter, he has more than one obligation when on the court.  

This one particular person was talking to me and said I had a wide open shot at the top of the three point line, but Drew Bryson was wide open on the wing. He’s probably the best shooter in the league, so I’m gonna give him the damn ball.”

— Tylor Morton

Morton thrives in the role of a pass first point guard. A point guard whose role when on the court is not to score the ball, but to pass. While Morton may not be one of the more recognized players in Wesco, his passing has made him one of the most impactful.

“This one particular person was talking to me and said I had a wide open shot at the top of the three point line, but Drew Bryson was wide open on the wing,” said Morton when asked on his play style. “He’s probably the best shooter in the league, so I’m gonna give him the damn ball. I don’t know why people complain about how I’m not shooting. I’m gonna give the ball to who’s going to make the shot. I have complete confidence that I’m going to make the shot, but I have complete confidence in my teammates to make the shot as well.”

While I would never tell Tylor Morton he couldn’t recover, I was skeptical. From the beginning of his recovery process the odds were against him. With a little over two months until the start of league play, Morton had completely broken his leg, yet he was convinced he would make it back.

“In my eyes, there was only one goal and that was to be back on the court,” said Morton when asked about his road back to the hardwood.  “When I first got home I couldn’t walk or put weight on it, so I would put my foot through my backpack strap and sit back on my bed and do curls with my leg.”

While some might say Morton’s obsession with recovering went into the realm of recklessness, Arlington’s comeback kid saw it as necessary. “Basketball has been my life since 5th grade,” said Morton. “I would sit in the cul-de-sac every single day. Rain, wind, storms. If it was stormy, I couldn’t shoot, so I would just work on ball handling.” Being a well known basketball player in Arlington, and his love for basketball being as apparrent as it is, Morton had many supporters during his recovery. “A special thank you to my coaches, Tony Guiterrez, my family, friends and community. The support and love kept my mind focused and spirits up to give me the drive to make it back on the court,” said Morton.

 

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As I checked in on a team practice to speak with Coach Nick Brown in early December, I looked onto the hardwood to see Morton, his leg wrapped in an ice pack, hobbling on one foot around the perimeter, sinking three after three. Even with a leg that appeared to be weeks away from supporting any weight, Morton could not be kept off of the court.

All those doubters in their eyes, they’re saying, ‘you’re not going to make it back onto the court,’ but here I am trying to get back onto the court, doing everything I can, rehabbing by myself, and yet they’re saying ‘I’m pushing myself too hard’.”

— Tylor Morton

Much of Morton’s rehab went unnoticed by people outside of the basketball program. In addition to a doctor prescribed rehab routine, Morton did his own workouts to maximize his leg’s chances of getting stronger. Despite his constant recovery efforts and workouts, his return remained questioned by many. “All the time,” said Morton when asked if he could hear the skepticism surrounding his recovery. “People were telling me to my face, people were trying to sneak it around me, but the word gets out.” Having followed his recovery since the initial incident, I can attest to the fact that Morton is not easily swayed, not by injury, and not by skepticism. “All those doubters in their eyes, they’re saying, ‘you’re not going to make it back onto the court,’ but here I am trying to get back onto the court, doing everything I can, rehabbing by myself, and yet they’re saying ‘I’m pushing myself too hard’, so they kind of contradict themselves,” said Morton.

The Eagles’ 9-11 record tells the story of a difficult year for a program used to such a high level of success. Starting off the season with a rigorous non-conference schedule prepared the Eagles for tough games, but two losses to Marysville-Pilchuck and an avoidable loss to Oak Harbor had the Eagles scratching for the third place spot in Wesco North. 

With the Eagle’s late push in the season, this team has looked tough, reinvigorated, and inspired. Morton’s return came during Arlington’s second meeting with Marysville Pilchuck, a full month sooner than the possible return in late February that some were even considering a generous prediction. Some would say his return may have been too late for the Eagles to have a shot of being a contender in districts, but key players like Brennon Wiersma have fed off Morton’s return to the court.

“Brennon’s a homie,” said Morton. “My whole team am I, we’ve always been playing together, but him and I have always had this special connection. Off the court but on the court too. Him and I, we have this bond on the court that I’m going to drive and I’m going to get him the ball and he’s gonna score every time.”

Since Morton’s return to the starting lineup, Wiersma has posted two double-doubles, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Everett, and 12 points and 10 rebounds against Marysville-Getchell. A typical sight in an Arlington basketball game is Wiersma receiving a fancy behind the back pass from Morton in transition, resulting in an easy bucket for senior post. 

Arlington clinched the sixth seed in the tournament with key wins over Everett and Marysville Getchell–both were games where Morton’s defensive and physical presence was strongly felt. But Morton’s game extends far past just being able to make nifty passes or plays. Morton isn’t just another shooter or strong passer for the Eagles. His loud demeanor that could be heard all season long from the sideline translates directly to his play on the court.

Tylor Morton is the chippiest player in Wesco. He is the player diving on every ball, the player that exchanges words with members of the other team frequently, the player who lets out a, ‘Hell yeah!’ after passing to a teammate who pulls up for a three, before the ball even drops through the net.”

— John Yeager

Tylor Morton is the chippiest player in Wesco. He is the player diving on every ball, the player that exchanges words with members of the other team frequently, the player who lets out a, “Hell yeah!” after passing to a teammate who pulls up for a three, before the ball even drops through the net. Morton is the player who responds to a rowdy opposing student section with a cold blooded stare after hitting a deep three.

While some coaches may complain about his boisterous play, it’s exactly what this Arlington team needs. The Eagles have been looking for their fire all season, looking for the intensity this program is used to–and Tylor Morton has been a large portion of the answer.

Morton’s play style feeds off of being bested, being beat, and being dissatisfied with being outperformed. “If they play better than me, if they out-rebound me, if they steal from me, if they hit a shot in my eye, if they do anything to outdo me, I go to this other side of me. I have this side of me that once I go on it, in my mind, nobody can stop me. Nobody’s going to stop me from passing it to Brennon, passing it to Drew, nobody’s going to stop me from hitting a three if I want to. Nobody’s going to stop me from playing my game, and I’m just going to out do you,” said Morton. When asked about the extremely physical aspect of his game, Morton seemed fully aware of his play style. “That’s just part of my game. I body kids up. I don’t back down. If somebody pushes me I’m not going to walk away, I’m going to get right back in them. If somebody pushes my teammate, I’m right there. I think I play better that way,” said Morton. After a brief mention of the Bad Boys from the Detroit Pistons, Morton replied by saying, “They inspire me.” 

The Eagles have reached their most pivotal moment of the season. As the district playoffs kick off, Arlington will be facing up against teams with similar physical styles of play that the Eagles have been displaying as of late. When asked on his outlook for the rest of the season, Morton looked confident. “I think we have trust and chemistry and everything we need to prove our doubters wrong,” said Morton. 

This point in the season is what Tylor Morton has been working towards since he left the hospital after completely breaking his leg. His improbable return has given Arlington new life, and now Morton is looking to share a certain mastered talent he possesses with his whole team. Proving everyone wrong.

Tylor Morton brings the ball up the court during the Eagles 66-49 victory over Marysville-Getchell.