By Tom Robinson
OXON HILL, Md. – Some of Morgan Haefele’s favorite on-court memories came at the Gaylord National Convention Center exactly a year ago when JB Hoops advanced a team to the USJN 17U Nationals bracket play for the first time.
For her final tournament with JB Hoops, Haefele would like to top that performance.
“We’ve pretty much been all together since fourth grade and with JB Hoops starting in seventh,” Haefele said of the JB Hoops Carra team that is 2-1 going into two games on the last evening of pool play.
JB Hoops Carra is in a four-way tie of teams trying to come out of tonight as the top two in Pool GG and make it to the Wednesday’s bracket play. Haefele does not want to stop there.
“We never won a playoff game (at nationals),” Haefele said. “Our goal is to make it there.”
Haefele and Victoria Toomey, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder at the tournament, first became AAU teammates with NEPA Flames in fourth grade. Gracie Guarino and Gianna Delfino, who are on the team with them, joined in fifth grade. They were part of a group of seven players that stayed together through this spring and the foursome is finishing up its AAU eligibility together this summer.
It all comes to an end when nationals are over. That made a loss at the buzzer Monday, after two straight wins to start the tournament, particularly tough.
“I’ve just got to lay it all out there because I’m never going to play with these girls again,” said Haefele, who is preparing for her senior year at Mid Valley where she ran the offense for a state-qualifying team last season. “This has been my life for eight years.
“It’s hard that it’s going to end.”
Haefele took just four shots in the first three games, but provided her usual contributions. Throughout her run with the program, she has been one of the team’s toughest defenders, which is particularly helpful with some of the quick guards JB Hoops has to face on the national level.
“I’ve always loved my defense more than my offense,” Haefele said. “I’ve always had energy and I’ve known that was my role when we had other people who could score.”
Haefele also has improved her ability to get the ball to the players who handle the scoring. She is the veteran sharing ballhanding duties with talented newcomers to the team, Rachael Rose and Moriah Murray.
After playing two years at Mid Valley with her sister Erica, Morgan took over the high school point guard role as a junior with Erica graduated and playing at Misericordia University.
“We’ve always had other people who could score,” Haefele said. “Now, I handle the ball more than I used to because I had to play point guard at my school.”
Haefele fits right in with a team that as a whole has shown an effective passing game throughout nationals.
“We’ve played together for so long that I think we know how each other play and I think we feed off each other,” Haefele said. “We know where people are going to be at certain times because we know each other’s roles very well.”
As she takes the court tonight, Haefele will be trying to extend her time with the JB Hoops team for at least one more day.
Haefele added scoring into the mix for the final day of pool play.
After being scoreless – and only attempting four shots – in the first three games, Haefele scored 14 points in the two Tuesday wins that allowed JB Hoops to win Pool GG.
Haefele had eight points in the pool-deciding, 61-28 rout of the Baltimore Charm. She hit all three of her shots, two 3-pointers and one from similar distance that was ruled as a two-point shot.