Morenci clinches TCC title with Saturday night win over Bobcats

Morenci left no doubt Saturday night in clinching a share of the Tri-County Conference championship.

The Bulldogs scored a season high for points and beat Whiteford, 79-54, to improve to 11-0 in the league. The Bobcats, Madison and Britton Deerfield all have three losses, meaning the Bulldogs can do no worse than at least share the league.

“Right from the start of practice this season, the girls said they needed to win the league,” Morenci coach Larry Bruce said. “That’s been one of our goals.”

Morenci’s offense was in full gear from the start Saturday. Whiteford tried double-teaming the league’s leading scorer, Daelyn Merillat. Mady Schmitz ruined that game plan by scoring 12 points in the first quarter. When Schmitz went to the bench in foul trouble, Morgan Gillen starting hitting 3-pointers. She finished with five triples for a career-high 15 points. It’s the first time this season she’s been in double figures.

“People think we are just Mady and Daelyn and that’s not the case,” Bruce said. “We have several girls who can score.”

Schmitz finished with 26 points and Merillat 22.

Bruce won four TCC championships as the Morenci boys basketball coach, but this is his first as a varsity girls coach and first for Morenci since 2004. Bruce is just the second TCC coach to win both a boys and girls title – Bart Bartels being the other.

“Our major goal, from the time I took them over four years ago, every time we come to practice, every night, to get better,” Bruce said. “The girls might have talked about the TCC, but I’ve always told them our job is to get better every night and winning will take care of itself.”

The Bobcats got 22 points from Baylee Baldwin and 12 from Maddison Eipperle, but didn’t hit a 3-pointer for the first time this season.

The Bobcats (10-6, 8-3 TCC) will look to bounce back with a road game Tuesday at Clinton. Whiteford’s next home game is Thursday when it takes on Morenci.

Morenci 79, Whiteford 54

WHITEFORD (54)

Link 0 2-2 2, Baldwin 7 8-12 22, Lindsey Walker 3 2-8 8, Thomas 1 1-2 3, Eipperle 6 0-0 12, Lauren Walker 3 1-1 7, Durden 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 14-27 54.

MORENCI (79)

Shaffer 1(1) 0-0 3, Gillen 5(5) 0-0 15, Keller 1 0-0 2, Merillat 9(3) 1-3 22, Dominque 3 2-4 8, Schmitz 10 6-10 26, Spradlin 1 0-0 2, Osborne 0 1-2 1. Totals 30(9) 10-19 79.

WHITEFORD       16           11           15           12           –              54

MORENCI            24           13           19           23           –              79

Total fouls – Whiteford 19, Morenci 21. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.

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