Jayla Garibaldi found her groove at just the right moment in Thursday’s Division 2 girls preseason championship game.
Garibaldi went on a personal 5-0 run to start the fourth, helping Morrison pull away from Centertown and win 27-23. Garibaldi, who scored a game-high 12 points, was named MVP after leading the Lady Eagles to the title.
Centertown had led from the opening minute, even building an eight-point lead at one point in the third quarter. The Lady Warriors mixed a stifling defense with Allie Melton’s shooting to get on top, but Morrison wouldn’t go away.
Melton hit two 3-pointers in the first half to give her team a 14-9 lead at the break. Kealsey Simpson added a layup to start the second half, while two freebies from Trinity Reynolds gave her team its biggest lead at 18-10.
The Lady Eagles started chipping away though, sparked by back-to-back jumpers from Harmoni Kennerly late in the third quarter. Her second swished in from the right baseline late in the period, capping an 8-0 run and tying the game at 18 entering the fourth.
Morrison took its first lead with 5:15 left when Garibaldi split a pair of free throws. Seconds later, she stepped in front of a pass and was able to race for a layup.
Down three, Centertown took a timeout, but Garibaldi wasn’t done yet.
Right out of the timeout, Garibaldi sprung free again, splitting defenders for a layup with 4:47 to go to make it 23-18.
Chloe Wanamaker made it a seven-point lead when she swiped a pass and out-ran three Lady Warriors for a layup.
Simpson snapped the streak with a putback, then she and Melton each split a pair of free throws to cut Morrison’s lead to 25-22.
Wanamaker came up with the backbreaker late, finishing a possession where Morrison pulled down three offensive rebounds with a layup with 1:13 to play. It was part of a five-point night for the all-tournament selection.
Kennerly and Sasha Alvarez added four points in the victory, helping each earn all-tournament nods. Imari Stacey scored two.
Melton’s 10 points weren’t enough for the win, but the Centertown guard was named to the all-tournament team following the game. Simpson, who scored nine points, earned recognition as well.
Shelby Miller and Reynolds each finished with two points.