As she runs through a defensive drill in practice Thursday, it’s hard to see Jill Morrison as a natural shooting guard. When a teammate grabs a rebound, she instinctively runs toward the ball, eager to take it up the court and run the show for the Golden Falcons (20-4).
Morrison, a Ball State signee, has spent much of the season playing point guard, helping lead her team to a Class 2A Shenandoah Sectional title despite not playing her natural position. Winchester will play Eastern (Greentown) (19-3) at noon on Saturday in the Lapel Regional. The winner will meet the winner of the Wabash-Seeger game at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
“I like it with the ball in my hands, I feel confident with it,” Morrison said. “I feel like I can get our players where they need to be and get the plays set up.”
Winchester coach Ed Geesaman said having Morrison at the point opens up his team’s offense and better enables the Golden Falcons to have a balanced attack in both the backcourt and the frontcourt.
“It took me a while as a coach, but by watching it from the county tournament on, it opens up that paint,” Geesaman said. “And, they have to understand that when Jill has two people on her, somebody doesn’t have anybody. And Jill does a fantastic job seeing the floor and she gets the ball to the right person. So it makes us a better team by doing that.”
Morrison broke the Randolph County scoring record for both genders this season and has more than 1,900 points in her career at Winchester. She’s continued to score at a prolific rate, averaging 27.6 points per game this season.
But the post scoring has come, too, with Bailey Gates averaging 10.3 points a game and Delaney Miller averaging 8.3 points.
The Golden Falcons also have three players who average at least six rebounds a contest. Maggie Williams leads the way at 7.1 boards a game, while Miller averages 6.8 and Gates averages 6.1 rebounds.
“I’ve always told them and I’ve told everyone in the community when they ask, ‘If I’m having a slow start to a game, I always look at the post,'” Morrison said. “And they definitely have pulled us out of some games here recently. And they’ve definitely become a big part of our team.”
Gates said she views taking pressure off Morrison as part of the post players’ role.
“This year, I think it’s kind of a relief for Jill because she’s able to rely on other teammates a lot more,” Gates said. “And if she’s ever in trouble, or she needs a little help from our offense because we have two or three girls trapping her, then someone’s able to step up. It’s just kind of a big weight off of her back because she doesn’t feel like she needs to score as many points as possible.”
Morrison and Williams are the only two seniors on a roster with six juniors. Many of Winchester’s players saw their first significant varsity action last season, and bring additional experience this year.
The Golden Falcons, who won their seventh consecutive sectional title this season, lost to Tipton in the first round at regionals last year. Geesaman is hoping that increased confidence will make a difference this season.
“We went to Lapel (Wednesday,) and we sat on the bus and put last year’s tape in,” Geesaman said. “You see so much more confidence in Delaney Miller now, you see so much confidence in Maggie Williams, her defense, holding the leading scorer down in the state (Frankton’s Kelsey Key.) Her bread and butter is rebounding and defense, it’s not the offense. When she gives us more than six or eight points, that’s icing on the cake. Bailey Gates, another, she got quicker, she got more mature over the summer.”