Bucktail’s Morgan putting up big numbers
Her older brother A.J. Morgan topped 1,000 career points and is Bucktail’s all-time leading football passer.
He is one of Bucktail’s all-time greatest athletes.
It is his younger sister Maria who has a chance to be the best athlete Bucktail has ever seen.
Only a sophomore, Maria already has made a huge impact in basketball, tennis and softball. Forget those two other sports for now, though, because it is basketball where Maria is establishing herself as a Class A all-state candidate.
Breaking program records as a freshman and averaging 31.7 points per game as a sophomore can do that for a girl. Many cannot find Renovo on a map, but here is thinking that colleges soon will locate it because Morgan is the real deal. She is only 5-foot-6, but has blazing speed, terrific range and the whole package. She proved that again last Thursday at St. John Neumann, having a hand in all 50 of her team’s points, scoring 25, dealing 12 assists and making eight steals.
It was a tremendous performance but it also was one that has become routine to those who have watched her play a lot.
“She is an amazing player,” Bucktail long-time coach Carl Gentzyel said.
“A couple times we lost our concentration on her and it was, ‘bam!’ She was just right there doing something,” Neumann coach Steve Sholder said. “She was finding her teammates (Thursday) and she caught on right away. We were focusing on her and she took what we gave her and that’s the mark of a good player.”
A year ago, A.J., now playing football at Lycoming, became Bucktail’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He also reached 1,000 career points and was the school’s best male athlete. His sister was the best female athlete after scoring a record 505 points and averaging more than 20 per game. As good as A.J. was, Maria has a chance to surpass his point total in only her second season if she continues playing this well.
“I look up to him a lot. He’s inspirational,” Maria said of A.J. “He gives me advice all the time so it’s good to have a brother that is good at sports, too, especially at basketball. He wants me to beat his record.”
Morgan has scored at least 21 points in all seven games. She has topped 25 points six times, 30 points five times and scored a career-high 42 against Millville. The intelligent point guard consistently beat Neumann double teams and is adept at getting to the basket. Once there, Morgan does not force things. She finishes, draws a foul or hits the open player.
To comprehend how special Morgan’s season has been thus far think about this: Entering the Neumann game she was averaging as many points as Kelly Mazzante did as a senior at Montoursville. She also is averaging more than current Maryland starter Tierney Pfirman did at South Williamsport last year.
As explosive a scorer as she is, Morgan also leads Bucktail in assists and combines tremendous vision with a keen awareness of where the other nine players are at all times. Her instincts and quickness make Morgan a good defender and she leads the team in steals. She is tough and fearless and never takes a play off.
It does not hurt that Morgan is constantly working. She is talented but so are a lot of high school players. It is her drive and desire to win and improve that helps Morgan achieve what she has.
“She pushes herself and pushes the other kids,” Gentzyel said. “At practice by her working so hard she’s not only pushing herself but she’s also helping her teammates do better.”
Morgan is one of four sophomore starters. A year ago, she helped a more experienced team have one of its best seasons in the last decade. This year, Bucktail is experiencing some growing pains, losing three straight. Morgan keeps the Bucks in every game, but she would trade the remarkable stats for consistent wins any day. Following the Neumann game, the fact that she had a hand in every point meant nothing. Morgan only cared about the final score.
That is the kind of attitude that can only make her and the Bucks better.
“It’s not like we’re getting crushed. We’re sticking with teams so it’s not as bad but it’s still rough,” Morgan said. “We have to get the wins, but it’s going to all come together sooner or later.”
Because she plays at one of the state’s smallest public schools, some might not believe Morgan is as good as her stats suggest. Go watch her play. Then one will realize this:
She is even better.
In that game Thursday, Morgan and Neumann’s Meghan Trenholm and Emily Sholder combined for 65 points, 23 assists, 21 rebounds and 18 steals. All three are among the area’s premier players. And just two years ago they played on the same team.
Morgan, Trenholm and Sholder played for the same AAU basketball team during the summer of 2011 and became good friends. They also played well together and developed good chemistry. Those who coach against Bucktail and Neumann (6-2) are glad this trio is no longer together.
“All the players around here play together so it’s a good experience,” Morgan said. “We all know each other so it’s awesome seeing all of us be good and then get to play together and be even better.”
Her sisters Kierstin and Jamie helped South Williamsport win a district championship and two league titles in the past four seasons. Jamie scored her 1,000th career point last year so expectations are high for youngest sister Anna, especially after she had a standout junior high career. Last Saturday, Anna might have taken a big step forward and offered a glimpse of things to come.
Steer scored six points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made two huge blocks late as South rallied from an 11-point third-quarter deficit and beat Montgomery, 42-35. What was especially impressive was when Steer did her damage. She scored all her points in the game’s last nine minutes, made a nice pass to Jen Jackson which gave South a five-point lead in the final minute, and made two impressive blocks in the game’s final 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
Steer is South’s second-leading scorer thus far and has a nice blend of size, post-up ability and vision. The genes are not too shabby either.
“I sat her down at practice (Friday) and told her I realize you’re just a freshman and everybody you’re going against is older than you but you have to play better,” South coach Mike Allison said. “I told her, ‘you were really good in junior high and I know high school is different, but you have it in you so hopefully this game will carry over for her.”
Masse may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse