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Senior captain Joelle Vuilleumier and the Morgan girls’ basketball team scored a 35-33 win against Ellington in the first round of the Class M State Tournament on Feb. 26. Vuilleumier grabbed a key steal that led to the game-winning basket late in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Kylee Clifton and the Huskies finished their season with a record of 16-8, winning six more games than the team did last year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Catie Donadio scored 19 points when Morgan edged out Ellington in the first round of states last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan girls’ basketball team picked up its first victory in the Class M State Tournament since 2016 when the Huskies posted an opening-round win over Ellington last week. Morgan entered the tournament as the No. 15 seed and defeated 18th-seeded Ellington by the final score of 35-33 on Feb. 26. The Huskies went on to lose a 47-34 decision versus No. 2 seed Cromwell in a second-round game to finish the year with a record of 16-8, marking a six-win improvement from last season.
Morgan hosted Ellington in the first round of states and came away with an exciting win against the Knights. The victory hinged on a sequence involving senior captains Joelle Vuilleumier and Kylee Clifton, as well as junior Leah McComiskey. Ellington had the ball in a tie game with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Vuilleumier stole the ball and made an outlet pass to Clifton, who found McComiskey for the go-ahead bucket with just nine seconds remaining.
Head Coach Caitlin Woods felt proud of her club for pulling off the victory. Woods said the Huskies showed poise by making big plays when the game was on the line.
“It was close the whole game. Right from the start, Ellington was extremely aggressive. Our kids had to stay tough and fight through,” said Woods. “We were down four going into the fourth, but we battled back.”
The game stayed even throughout the first half as Morgan and Ellington were tied 17-17 at halftime. The Knights went on a run in the third quarter to bring a 28-24 lead into the fourth. The Huskies outscored Ellington 11-5 during final frame, using their clutch plays down the stretch to solidify the two-point victory.
Sophomore Catie Donadio scored 19 points to go with six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals for Morgan. McComiskey had eight points with seven boards, seven blocks, three steals, and two assists. Vuilleumier added seven rebounds, two steals, and one block, while Clifton supplied four assists, three rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Senior captain Becca Shamp scored four points to along with six rebounds, two blocks, and two assists in the win.
Coach Woods felt that this win served as a prime example of how Morgan’s senior captains—Vuilleumier, Clifton, and Shamp—have helped the program grow during her three seasons as head coach. After winning four games in 2017, Morgan has added six victories to its total in each subsequent season. Coach Woods believes that her senior leaders had the biggest hand in that progression.
“I’ve been telling the seniors that they really built a foundation for the program. I came on when they were sophomores. That first year was a challenge. We were competitive in a lot of games, but we struggled to put them away,” Woods said. “Those three kids had a huge part of our success these past few years. They’ve logged a lot of minutes and have provided real unity for the team.”
On Feb. 28, the Huskies took a loss at Cromwell in the second round of the tournament. The Panthers were only up 14-13 after the first quarter, but grew the lead to 29-20 at halftime. The Huskies hung in there throughout the second half, although they eventually had to foul, leading to the Panthers’ 13-point win.
McComiskey scored eight points to go with nine rebounds and two steals, while Shamp had eight points, three rebounds, and two blocks. Donadio provided eight points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals for the Huskies. Clifton had four points with three blocks, five boards, seven assists, and two steals.
Even though her team didn’t get the win, Coach Woods said that Morgan showed up strong against a difficult Cromwell squad.
“We played them really tough in the regular season, and we were actually excited to have another try. I have to give them a lot of credit,” said Woods. “We got into some early foul trouble, and then we didn’t get to the line enough. That was tough. They pulled away and we had to foul, but we fought to the end regardless.”
Coach Woods feels excited about the prospects for her team next season. Morgan will have to replace some big voids left by its departing seniors, yet Woods still thinks that the future looks bright for the Huskies.
“I think replacing Becca, Joelle, and Kylee will take a lot of work, but they’ve taught these kids what it is to work as a team,” Woods said. “I’m confident with what we have coming back and the incoming freshman class. We’re going to miss them, but we’re looking forward to it.”
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