Wadsworth takes her “game” to the next level

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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AHOSKIE – When it comes to judging athletic talent, it doesn’t matter where you come from, but rather what advanced skill set a player possesses.

As an example, see Morgan Wadsworth.

The Ahoskie Christian School senior signed an athletic scholarship last week to continue her education and basketball career at the University of Mt. Olive. When she placed her signature on the scholarship, Wadsworth became Ahoskie Christian’s very first female athlete to reach that lofty goal.

“This still doesn’t feel real,” Wadsworth said after signing the scholarship on March 11 inside the ACS gym where a large crowd of supporters gathered to wish her well.

“I never expected my game would improve to the level it is now,” she added. “Yes, I’ve done a lot as an individual player, but basketball isn’t just about one player. It’s a team sport and without my teammates I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do. I wouldn’t be able to take my game to the next level.”

What she accomplished as a varsity basketball player at Ahoskie Christian is amazing. She made the varsity team as a seventh grader, playing in seven games and scoring a grand total of three points that season. But from there she kept improving to the point where Wadsworth became the school’s all-time leader scorer with 2,565 career points. She scored 1,010 of those points this past season (an average of 29.7 per game), leading the Lady Warriors to a 32-2 overall record and the champions of the Mid-Atlantic Christian Athletic Association.

However, her “game” was much more than scoring. For her varsity career, Wadsworth hauled down 805 rebounds, dished out 226 assists, had 625 steals, and blocked 210 shots.

It was those types of numbers that allowed Wadsworth to be recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of their top 20 small-school girls basketball players nationally.

“There will never be another Morgan Wadsworth; she’s a generational type of player,” said Ahoskie Christian School head coach Kelly Perry who has been at the school since 2009. “She has the skill set of a next level player. She gives 110 percent 100 percent of the time.

“The main thing with coaching Morgan was reigning her in,’ coach Perry noted. “You can’t teach the aggressiveness she plays with, but sometimes that style gets you in a bind. She had three fouls in the first half in the tournament we played at Campbell University. I reminded her of that at halftime. Then, early in the second half after an opponent stole the ball from her, she chased her down and popped the ball loose. The other girl hits the floor for the ball and so does Morgan. It could have been called either way or as a jump ball, but Morgan was whistled for a foul. That was her fourth foul and I had to sit her on the bench for most all of the third quarter and four minutes of the fourth quarter. We won by 11, but she could have backed off defensively after getting the ball stolen from her, but that’s not Morgan’s style.”

Perry added that he never had to tell Wadsworth to tighten down on defense.

“She was that way from the opening tip to the final horn,” he said

“I’m so proud of her and all we were able to accomplish while she was part of our program,” Perry said. “Mt. Olive is getting a very good player, but more importantly an excellent person. I’m excited for her to have the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Wadsworth said she started playing at Ahoskie Christian in the second grade with their in-school athletic program. By the time she reached the fifth grade, her “game” had advanced to the point where she earned a spot on the jayvee team.

“Ever since I can remember, back when I was playing T-Ball when I was little, I’ve been interested in playing sports,” Wadsworth said. “I was thinking that softball would be my main passion, but then I met coach Perry and everything changed. It was the way he coaches and the love and the passion he has for his players. I hope one day that I can be like him and coach high school players. I want to give them the same thing he gave me.”

Wadsworth put in the work to elevate her game, staying late in the gym to work on her shot and dribbling.

“The summer before my junior year, I went to a summer basketball camp at East Carolina and after that is where I began to work harder to improve,” she recalled. “After that I spent all my free time in the gym working to get better at basketball.”

Wadsworth said there were several reasons she chose Mt. Olive to continue her education as well as her basketball career.

“For one, it’s close to home and I don’t want to be far away from home,” she remarked. “From the second I first talked to their coaching staff on the phone to my first visit to their campus, they made me feel welcomed. It felt so much like home as far as the people there and the love they extended. Plus they are a Christian-based university. Their athletes are involved in Christian activities. Everything there felt right for me.”

Wadsworth plans to major in nursing with a career ambition to initially work in labor and delivery before returning to school to become a doctor and work as a mid-wife.

“Everybody thinks that just because you’re at a school with less than 200 students, like here at Ahoskie Christian, that you can’t compete athletically at the collegiate level,” Wadsworth stressed. “I’m here to say that you can do anything you want, but you have to put in the work.

“Being the first female from here to sign a college basketball scholarship makes me feel good, but something that would be even better than that would be for a younger player here to improve their game to the point where they can play at the next level. If I can do it, I feel as though anyone can do it,” she concluded.

Morgan’s parents, Tim and Valerie Wadsworth, thanked everyone for coming out and supporting their daughter on her special day on March 11.

“Thank you for the role you played in her life, whether that’s been through friendship or as a mentor or a coach,” Valerie Wadsworth stressed. “The impact you made on Morgan has meant the world to us.

“This is bittersweet,” she continued. “She’ll be leaving for college in August, but we’re so proud of what she’s accomplished in life to this point.”

“We appreciate you all for the value you each added to Morgan’s life,” said Tim Wadsworth. “There’s one I wish was here today, and that’s my mom, but I know she’s looking down on us from heaven. She was at every game.

“It’s always been about family, to include our family here at Ahoskie Christian,” he added. “Families offer support, just like we’re doing here today for Morgan. I hope ya’ll continue to support her with your prayers and words of encouragement as she begins this next chapter in her life.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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