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Morrison soaring to top of standings

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Morrison is one win away from clinching the regular season title in the girls 7-8 grade elementary league. The Lady Eagles will have three chances to pick up that victory next week, when the regular season concludes.

Morrison took its biggest step toward a championship to date Thursday, beating Centertown 40-32 on the road. With the victory, Morrison improved to 7-0 this season, while the Lady Warriors ended their regular season at 7-3.

It was the usual suspects carrying the load for Morrison as Harmoni Kennerly scored 12 points and Jayla Garibaldi added 11 in the victory. Centertown, which dug a big hole in the first half, got a game-high 21 points from Kealey Simpson in its comeback attempt.

The Lady Eagles rained on the parade for Centertown Thursday, with a big crowd assembled to send off the team’s eighth graders. The raucous crowd was also hoping Centertown could be the team to finally stop Morrison’s winning streak, but the Lady Eagles weren’t going to go along with the plan.

Kennerly and Garibaldi hit the ground running, taking turns getting to the rim for layups as Morrison built an 11-2 lead in the first quarter. By the second quarter, Chloe Wanamaker was ready to take the Lady Eagles to the next level.

Wanamaker, an irreplaceable defensive dynamo who serves as the team’s secondary ball handler, got hot right before halftime. She scored all seven of her points, including a crucial 3-pointer, in the second quarter to push Morrison up 26-7 by the break.

With time to regroup, Centertown found some solutions to slow down Morrison and navigate a tenacious Lady Eagle defense. The plan was obvious – get the ball to Simpson in the paint.

Centertown’s punishing post scored 14 points in the second half after scoring all her team’s points in the first half. Simpson’s scoring didn’t start cutting the deficit until the fourth quarter though.

Katrina Lusk made sure Morrison kept its cushion in the third, scoring six big points as the Lady Eagles spread out their attack. Morrison was held to just two points in the fourth quarter, but by then, it was too late for Centertown to close the gap.

Morrison now just needs to win one of its games against Dibrell Thursday, Feb. 3 during a doubleheader to clinch the No. 1 seed and regular season championship. The Lady Eagles could take care of business before then too. They face the league’s current No. 2 team, Eastside, Tuesday on the road.

Beating the Lady Bulldogs won’t be easy. They’re on a roll, one that continued Thursday at Dibrell.

Behind big nights from Macie Bush and Sarah Kate Winfree, Eastside easily dispatched Dibrell 47-32. It was Eastside’s third straight win, which has pushed its record to 6-2 this season.

Bush matched her season-high with 22 points Thursday, while Winfree – the league’s leading scorer – had 15. Bush and Winfree are two of just four girls to have more than 20 points in a game this year (Simpson and Allie Melton at Centertown have also topped the mark).

With two of the league’s top bucket getters, scoring has never been a problem for the Lady Bulldogs. Their defense was up to the task Thursday too.

Eastside smothered Dibrell lefty Maddox Adams, allowing one of the league’s most lethal scorers just eight points through three quarters. By the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs were up 47-21 and in full control.

Bush and Winfree sat out most of the fourth quarter, which Adams dominated as she scored seven points to get to 15 for the game. The loss dropped Dibrell to 4-4 overall, leaving the team locked into the fourth spot going into the postseason.

Only five more games remain on the regular season schedule, three of which will feature the league-leading Lady Eagles. Along with Morrison’s games at Eastside and Dibrell next week, Boyd will also face Eastside at home (Monday, Jan. 31) and travel to take on Irving College (Tuesday, Feb. 1).

If Eastside was to win against Boyd, but fall to Morrison, it would finish in a tie with Centertown for second place. Centertown, by virtue of its 21-point win over the Lady Bulldogs (compared to a nine-point loss last week), would win that tiebreaker.

Boyd could also force a tie for fifth place by beating Irving College next week. The Lady Broncos would need to beat the Lady Tigers by 10 points or more to secure fifth place. If Boyd was to win by nine points – matching Irving College’s 21-12 victory from Jan. __ - a coin flip would decide fifth place.

The 7-8 grade elementary tournament is set to begin Saturday, Feb. 5 at Charlie Dalton Gym. The league’s top two regular season teams would earn a bye into the semifinals (set for Tuesday, Feb. 8). A champion is set to be crowned Saturday, Feb. 12.

Centertown-Morrison photos (Painted Barn Media photos)

CLICK HERE for a full Painted Barn Media Photo gallery

Thursday Box Scores

Morrison 40, Centertown 32

Lady Eagle scoring – Harmoni Kennerly 12, Jayla Garibaldi 11, Chloe Wanamaker 7, Katrina Lusk 6, Samantha Saldana 2, Sasha Alvarez 2

Lady Warrior scoring – Kealey Simpson 21, Shelby Miller 6, Allie Melton 3, Kendra Fann 2

Eastside 47, Dibrell 32

Lady Bulldog scoring – Macie Bush 22, Sarah Kate Winfree 17, Atlanta Fults 4, Zoi Radny 4

Lady Wildcat scoring – Maddox Adams 15, Anslee Crick 7, Ana Dimas 4, Jenna Mullins 2, Lakelyn Basham 2, Dayana Esparza 1, Ari Kirby 1

Dibrell-Eastside gallery (Jeffery Simmons photos)

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