Morro Bay Girls Top Reedley in CIF Tourney

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

March 1, 2024

The Morro Bay High Girls’ Basketball Team capitalized on a distinct size advantage against Reedley, to dominate the Central Valley school in a second round CIF Central Section Div. 3 playoff game on Feb. 15.

The hometown Lady Pirates defeated the visiting Pirates (Reedley’s mascot is a pirate, too), 64-41 and improved to 22-6 on the season. 

And what a season it’s been for the Lady Pirates, who won the Championship in the inaugural season of the Sunset League, and posting an 8-2 league record. Earning the No. 2 Seed for the playoffs, the team beat West High School 48-30 in the opening round, and Reedley fell in the second round.

The local girls were slated to host the Div. 3 Semi-finals game against third seed, Roosevelt High of Fresno (21-7) on Feb. 21, for a chance to play for the Sectional Championship on Feb. 23 against either Bakersfield Christian (No. 1 seed) or Shafter (4th seed). The Central Section’s Championship Games for all divisions are played at Fresno’s Selland Arena.

But no matter how deep the girls end up going, their 20-plus wins is the first 20-win season for the Lady Pirates’ program since 2013.

Yes, it’s been a highly successful season for the Lady Pirates and coach Alex Engel; and the Reedley game was a good example of how efficient this team is on offense and defense.

“The girls did a great job executing our game plan against Reedley,” Coach Engel said. “We knew we had a size advantage inside and wanted to dominate the rebounding battle and make them take contested shots all night long.”

On offense, the girls dished the rock quite a lot. “We also did a great job of sharing the ball,” he said, “and working inside out by getting looks in the post and kick outs for open three-pointers.”

Leading the way for Morro Bay was senior power forward, Georgie Wheeler, who put up Stephen Curry numbers from beyond the arc. Wheeler hit seven of 10, 3-point shots and scored 23 points to lead the team. 

Overall shooting had Wheeler hitting a total of eight shots (seven treys) out of just 12 shot attempts for an excellent 67% shooting on the night. It’s gotten to be almost routine for Wheeler to light up the scoreboard.

“She’s hit seven, threes in a game multiple times this year,” Coach Engel said. “She broke the school record for 3-pointers made in a season, which had stood for almost 20 years.”

Shooting guard Violet Pace hit three of six, 2-point shots plus 4-for-4 from the free throw line to score 10 for the Lady Pirates.

Forward, Fiona Durham scored 10 points on four of 10 from the floor, plus two-of-three from the charity stripe. 

Senior center, Tailer Morrison scored nine for Morro Bay; point guard, Zoe Fitzwater scored four; Taylen Robson scored four; and Maiya Massie and Naiah Zales each score a bucket to round out Morro Bay’s scoring against Reedley.

The Lady Pirates have been able to do something that every team strives for but few achieve. 

“This season,” Coach Engel said, “our team has had incredible team chemistry, which has allowed us to be successful on the court. The girls spend a lot of extra time in the weight room, watching film, and practicing to prepare themselves for games. Their dedication has paid off and I’m incredibly proud of all of them.”

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