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IN THE PAINT: Mid Valley’s Haefele Prides Herself On Defense, Toughness

January 15, 2019 GMT


Morgan Haefele doesn’t know when to quit.

Guarding West Scranton’s Nya Johnson is no easy task, but one Haefele didn’t shy away from in their pre-Christmas matchup.

As the top defender for the Spartanettes, the senior point guard welcomes challenges like that.

What she didn’t expect was the inadvertent elbow that caught her just above the right eye, opening a gash that eventually required 12 stitches to close.

Before she left to have the gash repaired, Haefele had one question for athletic director and trainer Tom Nowakowski: Could he put a butterfly bandage on it and get her back in the game?


It’s that kind of attitude that brings a smile to the face of Mid Valley coach Vince Bucciarelli.

“She doesn’t back down from anyone,” Bucciarelli said. “She’s always been my key kid that I can rely on for the last four years.

“Over the course of the her career, if I had to go to a special defense or if we went man-to-man, I always put her on the best ballplayer the other team has.”

That collision and toughness reminded Bucciarelli of another of his players, former Boston College star and WNBA guard Amber Jacobs, who banged heads in a game with powerhouse Christ the King standout and future B.C. teammate Clare Droesch in their matchup at the University of Scranton, opening a gash over her eye.

Jacobs’ was able to finish. Haefele had no choice.

“I don’t even know how it happened,” Haefele said. “I just got hit by her elbow.”

She missed a couple practices but was back at for Mid Valley’s next game.

“Our trainer put a big band-aid on it,” Haefele said. “I played with the stitches. I forgot about it, but I looked like an idiot for whoever saw me.”

That’s not the case when she gets into her defensive posture.

“Obviously, my defensive side has always been stronger, but now as a senior, I need to take some scoring opportunities,” said Haefele, who averages 3.9 assists but just 3.6 points. “But I’m the point guard. My main thing is assists. We have Emily Morano. Obviously we need more than one scorer, so obviously I need to score more. It doesn’t bother me that I don’t score as much because I like giving good passes.”

She also shares off the court, giving her time to the Pride Squad, a cheer squad for children with developmental disabilities, as well as serving as treasurer of her class and student council, a member of the National Honor Society, Leo Club, yearbook committee and Students Against Destruction Decisions — all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.


Leadership is her forte.

“She fed off her sister Erica when she was younger, and she was the manager when Bob Doughton was here and they had all those good ballplayers,” Bucciarelli said. “She learns from listening all those years and it just carried on to her junior and senior year, especially.”

Now Bucciarelli and her team need her to take advantage of more offensive opportunities.

“Her biggest asset is how she can take the ball to the bucket,” Bucciarelli said. “She just goes so far and wants to dish it off or kick it out. I told her it’s her bread and butter. She has to do more of that.

“If it’s there, take it. I’ve been telling her.”

But some kids are just born to assist, like Haefele and the seniors on both basketball teams, who purchase, wrap and give out gifts to the community.

That gives Haefele a better feeling than any pass could.

“Especially today,” Haefele said. “The seniors go buy presents, wrap them and deliver them to their house.

“Obviously, I knew who the girls were and I saw one of them today wearing one of the things that we bought them, and it just felt good that it helped them.”

Contact the writer: mmyers@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; @mmyersTT on Twitter