Good Time for a Grand: Lebanon Senior Scores 1,000th Point in Easy Victory
Lebanon’s Moriah Morton, center, rejoices with teammates after scoring her 1,000th career point during last night’s win over Hanover. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover’s JJ Daniell battles to maintain possession of the ball. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover junior Holly Schlosser eyes the net during last night’s game against Lebanon. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — With another home game slated for this evening, there was no real pressure on Moriah Morton to notch her 1,000th career point against Hanover last night. Yet it sure was special to get it against the Marauders.
Playing in front of friends from both communities in a Lang Metcalf Gym filled to capacity, the Dartmouth College-bound Morton scored her 1,000th on an underhanded layup in the paint on Lebanon’s first basket of the second quarter as Lebanon rolled, 64-38.
Needing 10 for the milestone entering the game, Morton scored 28 points — her second-highest career total in a single game — and became the first Raider girl to reach the millenial mark since Meghan Daigle in 2006. She’s the sixth Lebanon girl and 14th Raider overall to get to 1,000, joining Raider boys senior David Hampton, who reached it earlier this season.
“I wasn’t too nervous because I knew the points were going to come,” said Morton, who hopes to walk on with the Big Green women next season. “I never have to be selfish to score points with this team, because my teammates always find me when I’m open.”
Morton does much more than score for the Raiders, acting as their floor general and leading the team in assists in nearly as many games as she does points. She’s also strong on the boards she and tenacious defensively in Lebanon’s stifling full-court press.
A relentless offseason worker, Morton makes 300 shots per day in solo practices and has joined numerous extracurricular workout programs to stay fit. Morton’s durability shows on the court, where Morton has never missed a game because of injury — that’s 89 games since opening night of her freshman year. She’s made substantial contributions each season, averaging 5.8 ppg as a freshman and double figures ever since, including a career-best 18.1 ppg this year for the unbeaten Raiders (15-0; 13-0 N.H. Division II).
“She’s a very strong kid; pound for pound probably the strongest kid I’ve ever coached,” said Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe, who doubles as a physical education teacher at the school. “She lifts weights, does strength-and-conditioning electives, all of the things you need to do to get bigger and stronger.
“With most kids, I tell them to play three sports to stay in shape and stay focused. Most of the time when a kid doesn’t play (a sport) to focus on another sport, they don’t really put the time into getting better at the other sport, but Moriah does.
She does it all with a smile. The happiest kid on the court, Morton’s beaming likeness has become iconic on the Lebanon campus. In anticipation of last night’s milestone, the team attached cutouts of the Cheshire cat smile from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland to Popsicle sticks and handed them out to fans to show off in the stands. Another homage was a giant cutout photo — similar to the ones popular among students at college basketball games — of Morton’s smiling face that members of the boys team passed around in the student section.
“She smiles all the time, so much so that I had to make the kids to pushups because of it (during a recent practice),” Kehoe said. “I told them we were going to do pushups if she didn’t stop smiling, and she couldn’t, so we all had to do pushups.”
Hanover (11-5; 8-5 N.H. D-II) jumped out to a 6-1 lead capped with a swish 3-pointer from freshman standout Lexie Hamilton, but Morton soon took control. With 10 large, hand-drawn numerals tacked to the wall of the gymnasium to denote the number of points remaining for Morton to reach the milestone, she knocked the first pair down from the free throw line before one of her trademark underhanded layups got it down to six.
She scored five more during the final minute of the first quarter, the first three on a momentum-changing play. With the Marauders leading 8-7 and Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke hollering from the sidelines for his team to settle the ball and play for the last shot of the period, Hanover instead took it inside and the rock was promptly stolen by Morton. She went coast-to-coast for a 3-point play, converting the foul shot after a layup to give the Raiders their first lead, 10-8.
Morton wasn’t done, drawing a foul on another drive to the hoop on a feed from Samantha MacDonald and sinking both free throws to get within one of the milestone with 20 seconds left in the period. She reached it with 6:35 to play in the half, pumping her fist as she was mobbed by teammates after the conversion.
The game was momentarily halted as Morton accepted congratulations from Lebanon athletic director Kelley Carey and made her way to the Lebanon student section to give high fives and hugs. She even embraced each of the Hanover players before play resumed.
“I told the kids to shake her hand because it was a special moment,” O’Rourke said. “Not many kids get 1,000 in her career, and she is a model player.”
Morton said it was equally special to get the achievement against Hanover.
“I have a lot of friends in both towns and especially with going to Dartmouth next year, Hanover is going to be a place that’s important to me,” Morton said. “It’s a rivalry and it can get pretty intense on the court, but I really like the Hanover kids off the court.
“I’ve been thinking about scoring 1,000 points since I was really young and I couldn’t have picked a better time to do it.”
Fellow senior co-captain Emily Kehoe scored 19 points for the Raiders, who built a 31-17 lead at halftime and let by as many as 27 in the second half. Kehoe’s fall-away jumper kickstarted an 18-4 Lebanon run featuring 3s from Heather King (seven points) and Morton as Lebanon built its largest lead, 54-27, with 5:36 to play.
Free Throws: Hanover junior Holly Schlosser matched Daniell with a team-high nine points. ... Morton’s teams are 9-0 against the Marauders, including a Lebanon win in the NHIAA D-II quarterfinals two years ago. ... Morton’s father, Craig Morton, is a 1989 Dartmouth graduate who starred as a wide receiver for the Big Green and later played for the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League of American Football.
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.