CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland freshman post Amber Morman might have played her last basketball game of the season Monday evening, when the Lady Raiders lost to Walker Valley in the District 5-AAA consolation game. She hopes she hasn't, but unfortunately she won't be able to influence the outcome when her team plays tonight at White County at 8 EST.
Morman is a Seventh-day Adventist and observes a no-activity Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. That means missing a lot of varsity basketball games.
Of the 27 games the team has played this season, Morman has played in 15. And she had to miss the first two weeks of practice due to a death in the family, which set her behind. At this point, she can only hope the Lady Raiders can pull out a win tonight. If so, she would be able to play Monday in the Region 3-AAA semifinals and, potentially, Wednesday in the championship game.
"I really just hope the team can keep on going, because I love playing, I love the team and I love the coach," Morman said. "I'm not happy about not being able to play, but there's nothing I can do about it. So if there's nothing I can do, I can only pray that the team gets a win."
Morman also still is getting acclimated to the high school game, which at times is a tough transition for a 6-foot-1 post player coming from middle school, where tall female players are more the exception than the norm. District 5-AAA features Bradley Central's Division I forward combo of Brooke Copeland (6-2) and Rebecca Reuter (6-4), and most of the other teams have players hovering around the same height.
"At first it was hard trying to pick up on everything," Morman said. "The pace is different and there are different varieties of how the girls play -- some that are a much higher level than middle school.
"Before, I didn't have to jump, but now I'm jumping and learning how to play against people that are my height."
Cleveland coach Mindy Kiser has been pleased by the improvements Morman has made, particularly since the Christmas break.
"She's tried to be a sponge and learn as much as she can, and be there for her teammates when she can be there," Kiser said. "She's been able to play some big minutes and give us some different looks. I've told her and her family on multiple occasions that in this day and age to be able to stand by their values and what you value as a family religiously is such a great testimony they have for society today.
"I'm looking for big things in the future from Amber. She's a great addition to the team, and I'm looking forward to what she brings down the road."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.