Plummer nets 1,000th pt.
By Fran Odyniec
She sized up the opportunity, took the shot, and as the ball tickled the twine, Morgan Plummer had scored the 1,000th point of her high school career on a three-point basket.
The milestone came Wednesday evening, Feb. 8, at Marion Harding as the Jonathan Alder Lady Pioneers (15-5) beat the Lady Presidents, 55-32.
“I wondered why I was in the game,” said Morgan, a shooting guard, recounting the previous night’s game during a free period this past Thursday morning at the high school. “Coach left me in and took the starters out.”
The Lady Pioneers had built a commanding lead at that point, but it hadn’t dawned on Morgan that she was so near the 1,000-point plateau.
“I don’t really pay attention to stats,” she said.
For her it’s more important that her team win as a team.
“She is unique,” said her coach, Terra McDaniels, who has coached the Alder girls varsity basketball team for the last nine years. “She doesn’t come across as a big-time player, but she comes across bigger than she is.”
McDaniels commented that other schools’ scouts have always been amazed that the 5’6” Plummer can be such a force on the court.
“People don’t expect her to come out shooting the way she does,” said the coach. “She has a quiet presence.”
So it comes as no surprise, that Morgan was a bit taken aback when Wednesday night’s game came to a halt after her 3-point shot put her at 1,002 career points.
“They stopped the game and gave me the ball,” she said, allowing a quiet grin to turn into a full smile. “Then they all (both Alder and Marion players and coaches) congratulated me. It felt awesome.”
“I’m happy for her,” said McDaniels. “She truly is a basketball fanatic. She pushed herself to where she is. Morgan knows that when she wants something, she goes the extra mile to get it done.”
To say that Morgan was born with a basketball in her hand is not too far off the mark.
Her father is a huge Michael Jordan fan to the point where if Morgan were a boy, her name would have been Jordan Michael.
However, while most babies look up at mobiles dangling over their cribs, Morgan looked up at something else.
“I had a hoop in my crib,” she laughed.
During her days at Plain City Elementary School, Morgan, who will graduate Alder this spring, played basketball in the Alder Youth Association and her natural ability with the round ball was more than noticed by her father.
“When I was little, I wasn’t so good with my left hand,” she recalled. “So, my dad had me work on my left hand dribble.”
He had her wear dribbling goggles as she played hoops on their driveway and as they walked down the street. They were designed to block out that part of her field of vision down by her ankles so she couldn’t look down while dribbling.
“Now I hide them from Dad,” she said.
The team nature of the game is one of its aspects that drew Morgan to basketball.
“It’s something I could do with my friends,” she said. “I’ve always been competitive, and I’ve always liked playing, ever since I could get my hands on a ball.”
Off of a defensive rebound or forcing a turn over, Morgan surveys the floor. She often finds Brittany Bakenhaster in the post position she plays on the same side as Morgan. Or, if there is some way to take the ball herself to the hoop.
Her favorite shot, which she thinks has something to do with those dribbling goggles, is to drive and go for a lay-up. The soft spot in her game is on defense when boxing out.
“I’m not a big rebounder,” she said. “I like to get back down the court. Coach will attest to that.”
“I hate losing,” she continued. “I’ll help to do whatever it takes to get my team to win.”
However, down in the paint is an area that at times can get pretty rough. Morgan credits Terra McDaniels’ approach in practice to giving the Lady Pioneers more than equal footing when push comes to shove.
“She pushes each of us hard so we won’t get freaked out in a game,” she said, referring to game-like situations McDaniels creates in practice.
Part of the McDaniels strategy is conditioning.
“I get to the weight room to lift whenever I can,” said Morgan, noting that it is not to bulk up. “You have to strengthen your muscles so you’re not apt to get injured.”
She added that even at the high school level, basketballl and get physical.
“I’ve broken a rib and my nose,” she continued, “but you can’t let the physical aspect get in your head. You have to place your focus on getting the job done.”
Carrying a 3.97 grade-point average, Morgan plans on majoring in athletic training. Thus far, she has visited Urbana University, Wilmington College of Ohio, and Otterbein University.
She knows that attending college and playing basketball at that level will be an an entirely new experience.
“The college game is much more intense and time consuming,” she said.
Nevertheless, she has no plans to ease up on academics. Morgan feels that her basketball experience at Alder has taught her discipline and responsibility in balancing sports with her school work. In fact, during her sophomore year, she took two math classes so that she could take AP-level calculus as a senior. Mathematics just happens to be her favorite subject which helped her on the basketball court.
“Solving math problems gives you a mental discipline on the court,” she said. “It’s definitely a different perspective.”
Heading off to college in the fall will send the 18-year-old into a different environment.
“I’m happy right now,” Morgan said, “and excited to see what my future holds. But I will definitely miss my four years of high school.”
She realizes that there will be more demands on her time and greater challenges, both academically and athletically. However, she anticipates dealing with some degree of failure.
“Everybody fails at some point,” she observed with introspection. “It is not necessarily a bad thing. If you learn from it, it makes you a better person on and off the court.”
Her advice to incoming freshmen is simple: There is no need to be stressed out over the transition to high school.
“It’s definitely a big change,” she said, “and there are teachers there to help you ease into it.”
However, she says that high school does present a much bigger challenge than middle school.
“It’s a lot more work and they expect more of you,” she continued. “They (teachers and staff) want you to be ready for the real world where you can’t have many excuses.”
Reaching the 1,000-point plateau is an achievement Morgan says she could not have done by herself.“Our team is awesome,” she said. “We all have the same goal, we’re all competitive, all have the same mind set: We all want to win. My team means everything to me.”
Looking back over the last four years, she treasures all the relationships she has made.
“I wouldn’t be as strong without these bonds and special memories,” Morgan stated.
There is one bittersweet memory from last year that she would like to relive, but with a different outcome. That was the Division II Central District Regional Final game against the Cambridge Bobcats last March in Zanesville. The Lady Pioneers lost a heartbreaker, 48-47.
“We were one point away from being in the final four,” said Morgan. “If we could have that chance back, we would push that much harder.”
With about three months left to go in her senior year at Alder, she knows that she owes a lot of people a lot of thanks for these past four years.
“Everybody has been supportive: My teammates, my family, my coaches,” she said. “I could not have gotten to where I am without them.”
“That’s Morgan,” said Terra McDaniels. “She knows that it takes a team to win.”