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Junior captain Catie Donadio and the Morgan girls’ basketball team played to an impressive record of 18-5 this season. Donadio earned the Huskies’ Most Valuable Player Award after leading them in points (15.8), assists (4.8), and steals (4.9) per games. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Leah McComiskey garnered Morgan’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player Award for her stellar campaign that saw her average 8.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.2 blocks, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per contest. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Rachel Lehn and the Huskies made a deep run in the Shoreline Conference Tournament by reaching the final with a 41-40 victory over Cromwell in the semis. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Caeley Ayer figures to be part of a formidable back court for the Huskies next year. Ayer earned Morgan’s Defensive Player of the Year Award this season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan girls’ basketball team put together a strong 2019-’20 season by finishing with a record of 18-5, while seeing some postseason success. The Huskies made it to the championship game of the Shoreline Conference Tournament and also picked up a victory in the Class M State Tournament before losing in the second round. Head Coach Caitlin Woods’s squad leaned on several young players to supplement a handful of seniors, and that mix proved a successful combination.
Morgan had graduated the bulk of its starting lineup from last year, but still retained plenty of talent. That talent propelled the Huskies to the No. 3 seed in Shorelines, where they defeated No. 6 seed Portland 52-25 in the quarterfinal round and then edged out No. 2 seed Cromwell by a 41-40 score in the semis. The Huskies then took a 32-16 loss to top-seeded East Hampton in the final. In the Class M State Tournament, No. 6 seed Morgan grabbed a 52-47 win over No. 27 seed Immaculate in first-round action, after which they Huskies dropped a 59-50 decision against No. 22 seed Stonington in the second round.
“I had high hopes going into this season with our lead scorers coming back. Losing three senior starters was big, though. In the first week, we knew the lack of experience was something we had to overcome. I credit my leaders. It took a lot of hard work from everyone to do what we did in the Shoreline,” said Woods, who was name the Shoreline Conference Coach of the Year. “Losing in the second round of states, we were certainly disappointed, but in the end, it probably helped that we had some closure. If we were still alive, it would have been more of a gut punch.”
Between senior captain post player Leah McComiskey and junior captain guard Catie Donadio, the Huskies had leadership in spades. The pair kept Morgan pointed in the right direction the entire season, and brought plenty of talent and basketball knowledge.
Donadio earned the Huskies’ Most Valuable Player Award and All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors. Donadio led Morgan in points per game with 15.8, assists per game with 4.8, and steals per game with 4.9. Donadio averaged 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
“Catie’s everything you want in a basketball player. She’s got the IQ, the drive, and the talent, and she’s worked so hard for it. I’ve never coached a kid with more desire to win,” said Woods. “The skill helps, but it’s her understanding of the game and her ability to leave it all out there. She never takes a second off. I’m a pretty lucky coach to have her.”
McComiskey proved a formidable offensive threat for the Huskies, as well. McComiskey earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors and Morgan’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player Award with 8.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.2 blocks, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
“Leah’s a special player. She’s great in the post. Teams would collapse inside on her, but she can step out and shoot,” Woods said. “On top of her shooting, her passing is tremendous. She understood who to find on offense in the right moment.”
Senior Rachel Lehn was another consistent contributor for the Huskies at either forward position. A shooter with good size, Lehn won Morgan’s Unsung Hero Award. Lehn averaged 5.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.
“Rachel could shoot as a freshman. She can find where she is, step back, and shoot. She has a great sense of where she is on the court,” said Woods. “She was first off the bench and very effective. I could have easily started her, but she was so good off the bench. I think she understood that. She was an offensive boost, not just a substitution. There were plenty of games that we wouldn’t have won without her.”
Freshman Caeley Ayer garnered All-Conference Honorable mention and Defensive Player of the Year honors with 7.4 points, 4 steals, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Ayer was a pleasant surprise this season according to Woods.
“Caely’s a spitfire. She had some great shooting nights and other nights with all sorts of steals. She’s going to make trouble for a lot of teams in the future. She’s fearless,” Woods said. “You can’t throw the ball over her. She anticipates and can jump. Even when she’s out of position, she recovers. She was in intense games down the stretch, and that says a lot about her composure and the basketball skill level that she has already.”
Another of Morgan’s tenacious players was senior Alyse Olcott. She earned the Huskies’ Hustle Award and supplied 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
“Alyse doesn’t care about her points, she just wants to win. She’s one of those kids that will run through a wall for you, and she’ll ask where you want her to hit the wall,” said Woods. “She’s received scholar-athlete awards in three sports. She’s the best student-athlete you could ever want. It’s going to be tough to lose her, because she brings more than basketball IQ.”
Earning Morgan’s Most Improved Player Award was freshman Katie Martin. Martin became and increasingly dependable player for Coach Woods. Martin averaged 4.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game.
“Katie was a surprise. I expected someone who could help us a bit, but once she got comfortable, there was no question that she was a starter. She’s so naturally athletic, and it looks like she plays basketball year round,” said Woods. “Katie’s also a great kid to coach. She uses her body so well in the post. That’s going to be huge going forward.”
Another key contributor for Morgan was junior post player Alex Kelly. Kelly provided 5.6 boards and 2.7 blocks per game this year. Coach Woods foresees big things for the junior.
“Alex has great size, and she worked so well with Leah. Alex was a great rebounder and shot blocker. Toward the end of the season she started to believe in her offensive abilities a little more,” Woods said. “She sees herself as a defender, but I think she will have an offensive role like Leah’s next year. She doesn’t have the shooting ability yet, but it’s tough to match her size.”
Junior Maddie Dunham earned the Husky Tough Award for her dedication to the squad. Coach Woods believes that Dunham will play a bigger role with the team next year as well.
“Maddie didn’t get a lot of varsity time, but she would do anything for the team,” said Woods. “She’s been instrumental in the team’s spirit, and she’s really improved as a player. She has a great shot to get more playing time as a senior.”
Sophomore Kacey Edwards earned Morgan’s Most Improved JV Player Award.
Coach Woods believes that her squad could even climb to greater heights come next season. While there will be some senior turnover again, the Huskies relied heavily on some promising underclass athletes that should improve thanks to more experience on the hardwood.
“We have an advantage going into next year after playing in the atmosphere of the Shoreline final, but it’s not just that game. There were a bunch of games where we had some packed gyms,” Woods said. “For our freshmen going forward, they will adapt much more easily. It won’t be as overwhelming. I think that we can get there again. It will take a lot of work, but we have more experience.”
From the Sidelines
The Morgan girls’ basketball team’s roster included senior captain Leah McComiskey; seniors Rachel Lehn and Alyse Olcott; junior captain Catie Donadio; juniors Maddie Dunham and Alex Kelly; sophomores Kasandra Gutierrez, Sydney Scanlon, and Ava Zirlis; and freshmen Caeley Ayer, Bailey Brown, Iris Dunham, Kacey Edwards, Alyssa Maikowski, Katie Martin, Eva O’Sullivan, Maddie O’Sullivan, and Sophie Passante.
Caitlin Woods completed her fourth season as head coach of the Huskies. Morgan’s assistant coach is Jessica Lynch.
Morgan’s wins during the regular season came against Old Lyme (34-32 and 38-32), Old Saybrook (37-17 and 47-29), Haddam-Killingworth (44-40 and 55-31), North Branford (50-38 and 47-25), Portland (53-26), Coginchaug (43-41), Old Saybrook (47-29), Hale-Ray (67-32), Westbrook (49-27), Cromwell (49-45), Guilford (42-39), and Valley Regional (61-36). The Huskies’ losses were against Valley Regional (44-32), East Hampton (34-23), Cromwell (48-29), Amistad (42-39), and Coginchaug (48-39).
Morgan earned the No. 3 seed in the Shoreline Conference Tournament and defeated No. 6 seed Portland (52-25) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the Huskies defeated No. 2 seed Cromwell (41-40). In the final, Morgan lost to top-seeded East Hampton (32-16).
In the Class M State Tournament, Morgan entered the bracket as the No. 6 seed and defeated No. 27 seed Immaculate (52-47) in the first round. Then in the second round, Morgan lost to No. 22 seed Stonington (59-50).
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