Hutchinson High’s Shea Morford couldn’t stop smiling whether she was scoring, rebounding or dishing off an assist.
Morford’s efficient return from a knee injury had head coach Tom Clark smiling after Hutchinson’s 48-29 Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League basketball victory Tuesday. She finished with nine points and led the Salthawks with several assists.
“I wanted to go out and have fun playing basketball again,” Morford said. “I wanted to try and loosen everybody up. Everyone was having fun out there tonight.”
Hutchinson (5-10, 2-6 AVCTL) lost to Campus 58-42 when the teams met Dec. 11 in Haysville.
“Shea could not stop smiling she was so happy,” Clark said. “She was glad to be back after missing six weeks. I like the way she battles inside and mixes it up. She is not afraid to play inside. We lack some of that.”
Sophomore Emily Wessel led the Salthawks with 11 points and Hannah Weber scored 10 first-half points. Jordan Downing added eight points.
The Salthawks survived a shaky start with seven first-quarter turnovers. Somehow, Hutchinson led 7-4 after one period behind Hannah Weber’s five points. The Colts made 2 of 18 field goals the first period and shot 16 percent the first half.
“Both teams started off high octane and going a little out of control,” Clark said. “I like a fast pace. I was pleased with our young kids tonight. Emily Wessel came in and did a nice job attacking the basket and handling pressure pretty well. The young kids brought high energy.”
Weber jump started the Salthawks with a 10-point first half that led to a 23-14 halftime lead. Hutchinson settled its nerves and handled the Colts’ pressure defense.
“We started to calm down the second half and took advantage of what was available,” Clark said. “We played aggressive on defense and made them work. We attacked the basket on offense.”
Morford performed her magic in the second half with a pair of assists to Emily Wessel and an assist to Shayla DeGarmo, who capped the third period with three free throws for a 35-22 lead.
“It’s nice to play a team again because you make adjustments,” Clark said. “We did a lot of things better. We handled their pressure and their traps better. Once we beat that trap, it gave us some opportunities.”
Campus (5-9, 1-7 AVCTL) was paced by Kyra Ivy with eight points and Hayley Leeper with six points. Both players scored in double figures when the Colts beat Hutchinson.
“We forced some turnovers and had some offensive rebounds, but we did not take advantage of our opportunities,” said Josh Curtiss, Campus coach. “We played well enough defensively to lead that first quarter. But we did not take advantage at the offensive end.”
Curtiss said he knew Hutchinson has improved quite a bit since December, noting that the Salthawks’ had beaten Derby.
“They have improved a great deal since the first time we played and we knew playing on the road would be a challenge,” he said. “You never know what will happen the second time you play somebody.”
Hutchinson will travel to Salina South and Campus meets state-ranked Maize Friday night.