By Josh Brown
URBANA — Morgan Haney didn’t really want to talk about her lost sophomore season.
She’s laser focused on being back on the court at last.
“It was painful watching, but I’m back, and I’m better than I was, definitely,” said the Miami East junior point guard, who missed all of last year with an injury. “I’m a lot quicker, and at first my brace was a pain, but I’m starting to work with it a little bit, and I’m kind of coming into my own.”
And with her leading the charge, the Vikings look poised for a huge season.
Haney poured in a game-high 32 points, Haley Howard posted her second straight double-double and three Vikings were in double figures as Miami East (2-0) put away a stubborn Mechanicsburg team 78-53 in the championship game of the season-opening Skeeter Classic tournament Saturday night at Urbana High School.
Haney, who scored 25 points in Friday’s opening-night win over Olentangy, added seven assists and five rebounds to her totals against the Indians (1-1) and had 19 points by halftime as Miami East took charge from the opening tip, beginning the game on a 10-0 run, building a 20-9 lead after one quarter and a 41-24 halftime edge.
Miami East coach Bruce Vanover likes what he seen out of Haney so far.
“I would have to say that she’s recovered well,” he said. “Anybody that’s seen her play … her motor doesn’t stop. We talk about the work she puts in — she’s just all in to basketball. We all know that work ethic makes you the way you are, and she just has an amazing work ethic and a great personality. She works extremely hard.”
And even though Haney has led the way in the Vikings’ first two games and has looked healthy, what truly has Vanover happy is how she’s immediately fit back in with her teammates.
“What she does is elevate everybody’s play around her,” Vanover said. “You don’t drop 25 and 32 without being that kind of player. What I really love about her is how she gets her teammates involved, pushing the ball up the floor, passing off of drives. What’s impressive is that she’s had 25 and 32, and the team has put up 70 and 78. So yeah, she’s scoring, but so are her teammates — and I think that’s huge.”
“It just feels good playing with my team again,” Haney said. “And the chemistry is really good this year. We’re just quick. We’re a quick team, and we’re going to get a lot of wins this year.”
Howard scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half to help the Vikings build that 17-point lead at the break, and she added 11 rebounds and four assists on the night. And Camryn Miller scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half to help Miami East pull away once Mechanicsburg began to fight back.
Because the Indians did fight back. Early third-quarter 3-pointers by Kasey Schipfer — who led Mechanicsburg with 26 points — and Meagan Hux helped cut the lead to just 11 at 45-34 and forced the Vikings to call a timeout with 5:20 remaining in the quarter. The Indians hadn’t been within single digits since early in the second quarter, and the Vikings knew that if they could cross that barrier, their confidence would only grow.
So East didn’t let that happen.
Camryn Miller knocked down a jumper right out of the timeout to push the lead back to 13, then Haney stole the ball and pulled up for a 3 in transition. A Kaitlyn Mack steal led to a fast-break bucket by Haney, and Haney finished yet another layup after a third straight Mechanicsburg turnover to make it 54-34 and force an Indian timeout at the 3:23 mark. But that still wasn’t the end of it, as Maria Staton grabbed a defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a layup, and Camryn Miller finished off the run with a transition bucket of her own to make it 58-34 and cap off a 13-0 run that sealed the win.
Staton had six points on the night, Mack had four points and five rebounds, Anna Jacomet scored four points and Bailey Miller and Mikayla Schaffner each scored two.
“Haley Howard has had two double-doubles to start the season, Camryn Miller hit some 3s tonight,” Vanover said. “And Bailey Miller just has done a great job of making things happen kind of quietly. She had four assists Friday night, and she made some nice passes tonight.
“I think the team is playing well together. It’s nice when you have a good nucleus, and then you have someone to pull them all together — and Morgan does a great job of doing that.”
The Vikings will face a big early season test on Wednesday night in their home opener — Miami East hosts back-to-back regional finalist Tippecanoe.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.