Mikala Morris pursued many goals for four years as a high school basketball player at Kenton Ridge. She set records, earned honors and planned her future. But one thing was missing.
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Morris had received recognition as a member of the Coaches All-County team the past three years. The goal this year was to win the Pam Evans Smith Miss Basketball award. She won it at Wednesday night’s banquet at Wittenberg honoring the best girls basketball players in Clark County.
“To be able to receive this really put that cherry on top of my senior year,” Morris said while holding the trophy.
And what a senior year it was. Morris was first-team all-state in Division II. She surpassed 2,000 career points. She surpassed 1,700 rebounds to become the state’s all-time leading rebounder. Her averages of 27 points and 20.5 rebounds are rarely seen. And she helped lead the Cougars to a 21-4 record and two tournament victories.
The most memorable part of her four years?
“All of the honors I’ve received this year has been amazing, but I would think this year especially was my favorite because I’ve gotten really super close with all the girls,” Morris said.
Joining Morris on the team is senior teammate Mariah Baker, who along with classmates Kirsten Wiley and Mallory Armentrout, formed the Cougars’ senior leadership team.
“We were leaders and everyone looked up to us,” Morris said. “Honestly we’re best friends off the court, we like to hang out, we have classes together, we’re always goofing around in the hallway. So the chemistry was just great between us.”
Other seniors voted to the team by the county’s coaches are Presley Griffitts and Corinne Thomas of Tecumseh, Kyndall Berner of Northwestern, Leslie Flores of Southeastern and Trinity Morton-Nooks of Springfield. The rest of the team is made up of juniors Andi Meeks of Shawnee and Regan Ware of Greenon, sophomores Mickayla Perdue of Springfield and Abbigail Peterson of Catholic Central, and freshman Mallory Mullen of Catholic Central.
Central’s Brandon Peterson was named coach of the year after leading the Irish to 17 wins and their first tournament win in 13 years. Berner was awarded the $1,500 Jim Murray Scholarship. The Southwest Ohio Officials Association sportsmanship awards went to Catholic Central player Taylor Baker and Greenon coach Lonnie Robinson.
Morris will continue her basketball career at Division I Quinnipiac in Hamden, Connecticut. The Bobcats are undefeated the past two years in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, have won three straight conference tournaments and have three NCAA tournament wins in the past three years, reaching the Sweet 16 in 2017.
KR coach Matt McCurdy said the Quinnipiac coaches like Morris’ rebounding prowess and her ability to fit into the interchangeable parts of their offense.
“They believe that in their offense she’s really going to flourish because she can step out, she can take you off the dribble and she can post up,” McCurdy said. “They think that she can come in and play right away. And they think by focusing on just basketball she’ll have a chance to go and play overseas.”
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