By Josh Brown
TROTWOOD — After missing all of last season with an injury and then wearing a brace for most of the current one, Miami East junior Morgan Haney is enjoying being 100 percent herself again.
“Free,” Haney said when asked how she felt without the brace. “I’ve been without it for three games. It’s a weight lifted off my leg, for sure. I feel a lot quicker and more explosive.”
Wednesday night, she put that explosiveness on display.
Haney scored a game-high 25 points — all while also guarding and shutting down one of the area’s most prolific scorers, Northeastern’s Hayley Suchland — leading the fourth-seeded Miami East girls basketball team to a dominant 60-23 victory over No. 17 Northeastern in the opening round of the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday at Trotwood High School.
The Vikings (19-4) advance to take on No. 2 Waynesville (20-1) on Feb. 21.
“A lot of the time in the first round, we get off to shaky starts,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “That’s why we want to play that first game in the tournament, to work out any rust. When we went to the draw, we had a decision to make. Anywhere we could’ve went that we wanted, we would’ve had to take an 11-day layoff. And I love these girls dearly, but they’d be stone bored with 10 practices before a game. That meant we had to take the slot in front of Waynesville — but we’ve played Anna and Versailles the last three years, always the No. 1 seed. We’re going to have to beat a really good team somewhere to make a nice run, and Waynesville will be a challenge, but we feel like we’ll be up for the challenge.”
There was no shaky start against Northeastern.
Camryn Miller began the game on a personal 7-1 run to stake the Vikings out to a big early lead, and then after Suchland hit a jumper to bring the Jets back to within six at 17-11 she drilled a 3 to make it a nine-point game, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the first quarter.
“The last couple games, Camryn hasn’t put up that many points, and she was kind of upset that her shot hasn’t been falling,” Vanover said. “I always tell kids that shooters shoot, and if Camryn’s open, she’s shooting. And this group understands that I still want them to shoot if they’re open — but just to create better openings. I’m proud of her getting off to a good start and getting us rolling tonight.”
And in the closing seconds of the first, Haney — who added 11 opening-quarter points — nailed a half-court 3 at the buzzer to make the score 23-11 after one.
“I think I just got lucky on that one,” Haney said with a laugh.
Miami East’s defense ensured that Northeastern had no such luck.
The Vikings held the Jets without a field goal from the end of the first until the middle of the third quarter, with Haney locking down Suchland — who entered the night averaging 31.3 points per game. Suchland had 10 of the Jets’ 14 first-half points, but Haney poured in 19 before the break to help East take a commanding 43-14 lead at the break and a 54-17 lead heading into the fourth.
“I knew she (Suchland) was good, and I told coach before the game that I was guarding her — and I’m going to keep her to 13 points or less,” Haney said. “I thought I played pretty well on her, and my teammates played great helping out on her, jumping the screens. My teammates helped out a lot, too.”
Haney came off the floor with 3:20 left in the game and Suchland sitting on 13 points, and Suchland hit one last shot in the final minute to finish with 15 points to lead Northeastern.
“Morgan was like ‘I want her. I want to guard her,’” Vanover said. “She averages more than 30, and for Morgan, that competitor in her, that’s a challenge. ‘If I hold her to less than she holds me, I’ve done my job.’ That’s her mindset.”
The Vikings also shut down the rest of the Jets, with Megan Davis following Suchland’s 15 points with four points. Bryn Dawson added three and Hailey Baker scored one as Northeastern only connected on seven field goals and was 6 for 11 from the free throw line.
Haney added nine rebounds to her 25 points and Camryn Miller added five assists and three rebounds to her 13 points to lead the Vikings. Bailey Miller chipped in nine points and four rebounds, Maria Staton had six points, Mikayla Schaffner scored five points and Anna Jacomet scored two. And despite being held scoreless, Kaitlyn Mack added six rebounds and three assists and Haley Howard had six rebounds and two assists, helping East outrebound Northeastern 36-25 in the game.
“That’s another thing I like about this group. They’re all so unselfish,” Vanover said. “They just move the ball and get it to whoever has the best shot. Like Camryn was about to shot a jumper here at the end, but Mikayla was open on the block. She could’ve taken that shot, she was shooting well, but nope, she gave it up because Mick had the better shot.”
Miami East will take on Waynesville at 6 p.m. on Feb. 21 at Trotwood.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.