COLUMBUS: Ashley Morrissette’s greatest gift is her ability to make her teammates better.
Since she plays for arguably the best team in Ohio, it follows in logical progression she would be an easy pick as the 26th winner of the Associated Press Ms. Basketball award, emblematic of the top player in the state.
“I would say that I’m an all-around player,” she says when asked to describe her game. “I can shoot if you leave me open, I can take it to the hole. I play really good defense and I’m also a distributor for my teammates. I like to make other players around me better.”
Since her team, Twinsburg, has won the last two Division I state championships and enters this weekend’s big-school state tournament at Value City Arena with a spotless 28-0 record and the AP’s No. 1 ranking in the regular season, she must be pretty good at what she does.
Her coach, Julie Solis, also said that she lifts the level of the rest of the Tigers. But she said Morrissette is much, much more than just someone who pads her stats on a great team.
“She’s the kid who hits big-time shots. She wants the ball in her hands,” she said. “But when it’s not necessary, she’s definitely making everybody around her better. Her passing, her vision — she’s got a lot of strengths.”
A 5-foot-9 senior, Morrissette averaged 19.1 points, 6.5 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field and 82 percent at the line.
Twinsburg plays Lewis Center Olentangy Orange in a state semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Few players ever get to step into the bright lights of a state tournament game. Morrissette, a Purdue recruit, appreciates that she’s been surrounded by players and coaches who have helped her spend many glowing moments of her career there.
“Winning the first one really motivated me to keep winning,” she said. “I just didn’t want to win the first one and then fall off. I wanted to continue on with that habit of winning.”
Of course, that draws the attention of everyone, from college scouts to other coaches and players.
“I really think that winning the second one and then to try and come and win the third one has really just been way harder than winning that first one,” she said. “Because now people know and they scout and they’re looking for your tendencies. It gets harder every game. They change up their defenses a lot and you just have to work around it.”
Morrissette had 22 points and eight rebounds in last year’s state championship win over Kettering Fairmont.
“I feel that I’ve been very lucky to even participate in one state championship,” she said. “To say that I’ve participated in three state tournaments, I just feel that all the hard work and all the hard summers have paid off.”
Morrissette was selected by a media panel from around the state. Others considered included Columbus Northland’s Alexis Peterson, Amanda Cahill of Clyde, Solon’s Kristen Confroy and Karli Bonar of Shadyside.