HIBBING — Hannah Morris wasn’t going down without a fight, and she won it by a knockout.
The Hibbing Community College sophomore scored 29 points, including 5-for-8 from the 3-point line as the Cardinals beat Northland 67-62 to win the NJCAA Region XIIIB Tournament Sunday.
Her play helped the Cardinals to the National Tournament, which will be held March 14-16, in Bethleham, Pa.
She not only did it on offense, but on the defensive end, too.
She was assigned the toughest task on the floor, trying to defend Northland’s 6-foot-1-inch post player Brooke Heggie, who did score 29 points, but Morris, who is only 5-9, matched her point-for-point.
“She’s a good player,” Morris said. “She’s hard to guard, especially with me being so short, and her being so tall.”
Morris hit one 3-pointer in the first quarter, and finished with only seven points in the first half, then in the third quarter, when it looked like Northland might pull away, Morris made sure her team stayed close.
Morris, who averaged 12,5 points per game this season, scored all of her teams’ points in the quarter, nine, to make it 39-37 heading into quarter No. 4.
Instead of attacking Heggie in the paint, she had the advantage around the perimeter.
“(Hitting those shots) was super important,” Morris said. “Last year, I was more of a perimeter player, but this year, I had to switch to the post because I’m one of the tallest players on the team.
“That’s the one thing I could use against Heggie. I could pop out and shoot those threes. That was something we needed, and I took advantage of that.”
Morris would score 13 more in the fourth, including the go-ahead basket with 2:40 to play in the game.
Brau had nothing but praise for Morris.
“When it comes to tournament time, it’s a special thing, in those competitive moments, to see players rise up and carry their team,” Brau said. “Hannah did that. She has been a leader for our program.
“For her to hit shot after shot after shot, especially in the second half to carry her team, we couldn’t be more happy for her.”
Morris said, “I’ve been in a lot of close games in high school, so I knew we’d be fine. “For some of the girls it was harder because we had blown out teams by so much this year. As a leader and a captain, I had to stay calm, and help the girls stay collected.
“I was saying, ‘We’ve got this. We have to calm down and play our game.’”
Morris delivered in a big way.