Falcon flourishes

Falcon flourishes

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Falcon flourishes

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When Jill Morrison approached the high school level, she was often told she would never see a 30-point game again.

But if the recent Winchester High School graduate listened every time somebody doubted her, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

Morrison is at Ball State University preparing for her NCAA Division I women’s basketball career.

She is the leading scorer in Randolph County high school basketball history — regardless of gender.

She is a state qualifier and the owner of various records for the Falcons’ golf team.

She is also the fifth Palladium-Item Myyon A. Barnes Athlete of the Year finalist.

“Jill is probably one of the two people in this area that put the time that you had to put the time in to be able to be a Division I athlete,” Winchester girls basketball coach Ed Geesaman said. “There’s not a whole handful around the area. She has put a lot of time in since the elementary. That’s what it takes and she worked hard to be where she was at.”

During Morrison’s early years, she had no idea she would be a Division I basketball player.

Definitely not because there was no ability, but she had so many activities from which to choose.

“I played softball, boys baseball as a kid, I was a golfer and I was a cheerleader, went to gymnastics at one time — I thought for the longest time I was going to be a cheerleader and do gymnastics,” she said. “Then I became pretty good at basketball and I thought, ‘Nope. I’m going to play basketball.'”

As it turned out, it was the right choice.

Morrison entered her high school career and quickly made an impact, becoming a piece of the puzzle in Winchester’s first semistate trip.

She scored 10 points in a 56-53 overtime victory over Heritage Christian that made Winchester 25-0 at the time and gave them their first regional title in program history.

” … We were down eight with 2 minutes to go. That was just one of the best days of my life in sports,” she said, pointing to one of her two most memorable moments in her high school career.

The second is not as glorious: a 72-70 regional loss to Eastern this year.

“I wouldn’t say this is my favorite memory but this year when we lost to Eastern in the regional semifinals, that was one that will always stick with me with how I went out with my career,” she said.

“It was a very hard day. I mean I’m glad we lost by two instead of, like, 20, but a career-ender like that, it was very heartbreaking. But it was also a very humbling way for me, because we fought so hard and ended up coming up just short.”

Between those two events sit a 1,982 career points, a school and county record.

She averaged 27.6 points for the 20-5 Falcons and won four Randolph County Tournament titles in her time at Winchester and four of the seven consecutive sectional crowns they own.

She also helped the Falcons earn a Tri-Eastern Conference title this year with a perfect 7-0 mark, while also being named TEC Player of the Year, earning all-state second-team honors and being named an Indiana All-Star.

“For her, that is an honor and an accomplishment that she worked hard since her freshman year,” Geesaman said. “She spent a lot of hours in the gym shooting.

“She set her goals high — that’s what one of the messages she sent to the younger girls at the camps is, ‘Set your goals high and believe that you’re capable of accomplishing those goals, then do what you need to accomplish them.'”

It was not the only goal she accomplished.

Morrison had a little free time in middle school and decided to give golf a try.

The few years were more than enough to help her break Winchester’s 18-hole golf record, an even-par 72, and tie for the nine-hole record with a 34.

She qualified for the state tournament as a junior and just missed advancing to the final round by one stroke.

Former Winchester golf coach Missy Williams points to Morrison’s state trip as a turning point in Morrison’s athletic career.

“It really put her on the stage, where she was up against the best in the state,” Williams said. ” … She was a little bit nervous. She had never played at the state level when you’re out there all by yourself and you don’t have a whole team with you.

“I think it really gave her a lot of confidence to know what she really can do in those situations.”

All the effort with basketball and golf did little to slow Morrison down.

She earned 12 varsity letters: four each in basketball and golf and two each in softball and track and field.

Morrison set the softball team’s stolen base and runs records in her two years, batting close to .500 both seasons.

Then, she decided to run track and throw shot put to get in tip-top shape for Ball State.

She qualified for regional in the shot put as a junior, but could not compete in the sectional as a senior due to a death in the family.

She ran the 400, 200 and a few legs on relays.

“Just was an outstanding all-around athlete that participated in all those different varieties of sports is quite an accomplishment,” Winchester athletic director Tim Passmore said.

“It’s to her credit. We see far too many athletes that think they need to concentrate on one sport and so I am so happy to see someone kind of disprove that myth that you have to focus on one to be successful.”

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