By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
MIAMI COUNTY — Miami East’s Morgan Haney and Milton-Union’s Kristen Dickison — two of Miami County’s best girls basketball players over the past four years — have not shared the floor during their high school careers, with the Vikings and Bulldogs not playing each other during that time.
After Saturday, though, they are inextricably linked.
Seniors Haney and Dickison scored their 1,000th career points Saturday in separate games — both of them league wins for their respective teams, too — with Haney’s coming in a Miami East victory at Arcanum and Dickison’s coming at home against Madison.
Haney, who needed 14 points going into Saturday’s critical Cross County Conference matchup at Arcanum as the defending champion Vikings took on one of this year’s contenders in the Trojans, was shut out in the first half. But, according to Miami East coach Bruce Vanover, none of that mattered to her — because the Vikings still led by five at the half.
“She was struggling to get a shot to fall in the first half and had zero points at halftime,” he said. “She had taken some really good shots that just didn’t go — rimmed in, rimmed out, bounced around on the rim. But at halftime, she was just awesome. She was like ‘I don’t have any points, but we’re winning the game.’ And I think for her, had she not gotten it and won the game, that would’ve been just as important for her as getting her 1,000th.
“We came out in the third, and she got a layup and a foul — and you could almost see the switch go off. It wasn’t far into the fourth quarter when she got her 14th point, and she got them on two takes to the bucket. It was fun to watch.”
Haney finished with 16 on the night as the Vikings improved to6-2 overall and 4-0 in CCC play with a 54-41 victory. And with the team victory in hand, she was able to enjoy celebrating her own accomplishment a bit more.
It’s just another in a long line of accomplishments for Haney, too. She joins only seven other Miami East players since 1976 in the 1,000-point club: Jessie Roeth, Carrie Chivington, Angie Benham, Danielle Denlinger, Jenny Eley and Ashley and Trina Current.
“The most impressive part to me, we talk about 1,000 points, we’ve only had seven other girls since 1976 achieve that milestone — and Morgan did it in two seasons and eight games,” Vanover said. “We all know she missed her sophomore season with an injury, so she played her freshman and junior years, and this was the eighth game of her senior year. That’s scoring around 400 points in each of those full seasons — imagine what she could have done if she had that third full year in there. That speaks a lot to what she means to the program.”
And for Vanover, the intangibles she brings to the floor are the biggest part of why she’s been so important to everything the Vikings have done with her leading the way — and also in her signing to play Division I college basketball at the University of Albany.
“She’s an amazing player, has an amazing work ethic, and I think the kids that she’s playing with now play well with her,” Vanover said. “She’s had to play with experienced and inexperienced teams. She’s been the youngest player on varsity, and now she’s the most experienced. When she was a freshman, she played with a lot of seniors, and now that she’s a senior, she’s playing with a lot of sophomores.
“It’s been fun to watch her continue this great tradition of basketball players here at Miami East, and she’s going to have a great career in college, too.”
Dickison, meanwhile, quickly took care of her milestone Saturday in a 42-27 Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division win over Madison at home.
“Kristen needed 12 points going in, and she started off well,” Milton-Union coach Katie Roose said. “She scored eight in the first quarter. She got a bucket early, and that kind of calmed my nerves for her. Like, okay, she seems calm and relaxed. She got those eight and was able to score her 1,000th with about 6:17 left in the second quarter.
“And actually, she had to shoot free throws to get it. Kind of a pressure situation, but she handled the pressure very well.”
The way Dickison has started the season is something no Bulldog has done before, either. She scored 30 and 31 points in the first two games of the season and hit the 30 mark in three of the team’s first four games. She finished with 20 on Saturday against Madison, and her lowest total thus far has been an 18-point effort against Waynesville.
“She had 115 points in our first four games this season. That’s the most in a stretch like that for any girls basketball player in the school’s history. That’s pretty special,” Roose said.
Dickison is the fourth Bulldog girls basketball player to hit the 1,000 mark in the program’s history, joining Kelly Berens, Kaci Finfrock and Brooke Falb — with Roose also coaching Falb, as she graduated in 2015.
“I’ve pretty fortunate to have been blessed with two 1,000-point scorers. A lot of coaches are lucky to get one,” Roose said. “To be six years in and have two, I’m a pretty lucky coach.”
And with the Bulldogs sitting at 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the SWBL Buckeye, with the only loss being to three-time defending champion Waynesville, Dickison has been key to everything Milton-Union has done this year.
“She’s obviously been a vital part of our offense, and she not only bears the weight of scoring but has the responsibility of being our point guard,” Roose said. “This year’s been a little different in that we have two other girls in Rachel (Thompson) and Morgan (Grudich) that can alleviate some of that pressure, with any of those three girls able to bring the ball up the floor. But Kristen’s been the floor general, and she’s been in control of our team offensively, and I think this year she’s shown great leadership in terms of taking charge when maybe we can’t run transition and need to run our offense. She’s done a great job directing traffic for us.
“She’s done that throughout her career, but I really think she’s been doing a great job of that for us this year.”
In fact, the start to Dickison’s senior year is probably the most impressive thing about her career to Roose.
“Honestly, I think that would be it,” Roose said. “Her freshman year, she went through growing pains. Her sophomore year, she asserted herself a little bit more. She got off to a little rough start her junior year. I would say that the way she has handled the start of her senior year and being able to be as effective as she’s been in the first six games of her senior year, I would say that’s the most impressive thing of her tenure here.”
And now Haney and Dickison’s careers will be linked solely because of perfect timing, as the two teams have not played each other. The closest they came was last season’s sectional tournament, but Miami East lost to Waynesville in the semifinal round, then the Bulldogs lost to the Spartans in the final.
Even so, with both county schools being so close together, it’s noteworthy. And later on Saturday night, Miami East’s boys team played at Milton-Union, with both players being honored at halftime of that game.
“Only 16 miles apart, and they both do it on the same day — and then the boys teams play each other later that same night?” That’s all pretty crazy,” Roose said.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.