Morgan embraces gritty role

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 4, 2014 

Lynden’s Ashlyn Morgan shoots against Blaine’s Mandy Hayes, left, and Alexis McElwain on Friday, Jan. 31, in Lynden.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

To see Ashlyn Morgan's impact on the Lions' girls' basketball team is to watch with a keen eye.

Nothing she does garners the stand-and-stare response from fans or players, but the film bears the complete truth about the 5-foot-10 senior post.

"As a basketball junkie, if you really watch you really appreciate all the little stuff that she does to help you win - to help us win," Lynden coach Rob Adams said. "It's going to be sad to see her go because it's fun to watch film and say, 'Wow, who was in the middle of that? Oh, No. 11.' 'Hey, who made that pass? Oh, No. 11.' 'Who got that big block out? No. 11'"

She doesn't aim to be something she's not. That's a gift, Adams said, to know and understand your role. Hers is to be the muscle. To stand in the post and take a beating, offering in return a resiliency and toughness needed to play against girls sometimes three or four inches taller.

"It can be hard. It's extremely frustrating going in sometimes against girls twice the size of you," Morgan said. "As long as I keep that right mentality I am able to push through it, and I've had some tough assignments this season."

With only eight teams remaining in contention for the Class 2A State Girls' Basketball Championship, those tough assignments will likely only get tougher for the only post player listed on Lynden's roster.

The Lions begin their run at the 2014 Hardwood Classic against Port Angeles at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 6, at the SunDome in Yakima. Lynden, after defeating Olympic 63-47 in the regional round of state on March 1, is riding a nine-game winning streak dating back to the regular season, claiming a 2A bi-district title in the process.

There takes a certain temperament to do what Morgan does. An edge, Adams said, because unlike her teammates Stephanie Somers and Elisa Kooiman, her impact isn't necessarily illustrated in the points column.

That isn't to lessen her importance for the Lions, though. Far from it.

"Every team's got to have that hard-hat, lunch-pail type kid, and she's that for us," Adams said. "She often times draws the toughest task of guarding their most physical post player. She gets assigned with having to be the banger. ... It doesn't even faze her. She just keeps coming back for more."

The points do come, although most off putbacks and other methods that involve pulling out tough rebounds or finishing near the basket against taller, bigger posts.

And again, on the offensive end she doesn't masquerade as a lethal scoring threat with the ball in her hand.

"I'm not the type of player that just goes for baskets every time," Morgan said. "I want to be able to get my teammates points, because if they can score two points or I can score two points, it's still two points. We're a team. We all contribute."

Against Olympic, she finished with eight points - eight points that Adams said all came in distinctly important times in the game. She's had a propensity for doing that, providing another option on offense when the team needs her to in big games.

"She's had double-doubles in the biggest games where we had to have it," Adams said. "Everybody wants to celebrate her points and her rebounds, and I celebrate all the stuff she did from baseline to baseline. The points are just a reward."

The reality of state coincides with the imminent end of her career at Lynden, reaching back to her sophomore year when she tagged along to take in the experience of the Hardwood Classic. But back then, she was just an onlooker. Now, she said, to have the chance to play a key role on a team with championship aspirations is a much different feeling.

"As a sophomore just being out on those courts, it's an amazing feeling out there," said Morgan of being at the SunDome. "Words can't describe how excited I am."

The bruises and soreness are all worth it, she added, drawing matchups nobody wants except her.

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.

UP NEXT

LYNDEN VS. PORT ANGELES

When: 10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 6

Where: Yakima SunDome

PLAYER STATS

Player G Pts. Avg.

Amanda Warner 24 110 4.6

Kira Nelson 22 60 2.7

Maddie Kramme 4 0 0.0

Jasmyne Neria 24 76 3.2

Holly McKinley 23 49 2.1

Ashlyn Morgan 23 138 6.0

Elisa Kooiman 23 325 14.1

Kaitlyn Mark 24 175 7.3

Emily Holt 11 13 1.2

Stephanie Somers 24 314 13.1

Senaida Veliz 1 0 0.0

Olivia Bonsen 3 0 0.0

Lauren Zwiers 2 0 0.0

LYNDEN (18-6), (9-3)

Dec. 9 Anacortes W, 65-41

Dec. 13 at Sehome W, 61-37

Dec. 14 at Lake Stevens L, 55-45

Dec. 17 Mount Baker W, 73-59

Dec. 19 Bellingham* W, 56-39

Dec. 27 at Sonoma, Calif W, 56-21

Dec. 28 Cookeville, Tenn L, 66-57

Dec. 30 Kings L, 47-42

Jan. 3 at Squalicum* W, 56-29

Jan. 6 Burlington-Edison* L, 54-45

Jan. 10 at Anacortes* W, 43-29

Jan. 11 at White River W, 49-32

Jan. 13 Nooksack Valley* W, 55-43

Jan. 17 at Lynden Christian* L, 38-32

Jan. 23 at Mount Baker* L, 48-44

Jan. 28 Sehome* W, 47-13

Jan. 31 Blaine* W, 52-45

Feb. 3 at Ferndale* W, 45-44

Feb. 6 Meridian* W, 49-35

Feb. 11 Sedro-Woolley* W, 64-27

CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

Feb. 14 Lakewood W, 63-29

Feb. 17 Archbishop Murphy W, 57-40

Feb. 21 Burlington-Edison W, 49-44

CLASS 2A REGIONAL ROUND OF STATE

March 1 Olympic W, 63-47

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