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Player of the Decade: Danielle Morgan's grit powered Lompoc High
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Player of the Decade

Player of the Decade: Danielle Morgan's grit powered Lompoc High

From the Girls Basketball Player of the Decade: We continue the countdown of the area's greatest athletes series

Danielle Morgan piled up the accolades during her time at Lompoc High, becoming one of the most decorated basketball players on the Central Coast.

Just look at the résumé: She earned All-Los Padres League honors all four years she played on varsity, being named to the Honorable Mention team as a freshman before landing on the First Team in her final three years, including the LPL Defensive MVP award in 2018 when she was a senior.

She was also named the All-Area Defensive Player of the Year by the sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News that year. She was also named to the All-Area First Team as a junior in 2017 and as a sophomore in 2016.

Morgan topped 1,000 career points with the Braves, finishing her prep career with 1,186 points. She averaged 17 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a senior at Lompoc.  

Though her Lompoc High days are well behind her, she hasn't stopped piling up the hardware. As a freshman at Hancock College during the 2018-19 season, Morgan became the Bulldogs' top player. She was named to the All-Western State Conference First Team as a freshman.

The 5-foot-8 guard averaged 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in her first season with the Hancock. She missed last season with a torn labrum, but hopes to return once play resumes at the junior college level, whenever that may be. 

She played in 106 games at Lompoc High, averaging 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. The Braves went 79-28 as a team during her career at LHS.

Morgan is the fourth nominee for the Player of the Decade award. She joins Arroyo Grande's Ashlyn Herlihy, Righetti's Molly Schlemer and Cabrillo's Erin Jenkins. The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade.

Though Morgan built a flashy résumé at Lompoc with plenty of individual accolades, those honors belie the type of player she was. Morgan was an aggressive and relentless perimeter defender that played hair-on-fire defense for all 32 minutes. While her defense was constant, she steadily developed an offensive game to match. Morgan became an offensive threat who would slash through defenses with her quickness and ball-handling ability. Her jump-shooting ability continued to improve as well, becoming a more than able shooter, even at the junior college level.

But a moment that really defined her days as a Brave came in her final season at LHS. As the lone senior on the team toward the end of the 2017-18 season, Morgan was so battered that she almost wasn't able to play in her senior night game. 

But Morgan told her head coach and mother Claudia Terrones “Don’t sit me – no matter how much pain I’m in,” according to a Lompoc Record story from 2018 by former sports writer Lorenzo J. Reyna.

Morgan, of course, did play and scored 22 points in the game on a bandaged right knee. She willed her team to a 61-41 rout of Morro Bay.

“I’m a very emotional person," Morgan told Reyna that night. "Right before the game, I just cried. Just being able to play four years here at this high school is just phenomenal – and it was under my mom. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had."

Morgan continued to play through pain and injuries at Hancock, but was forced to sit out last season in hopes of returning as a sophomore for the 2020-21 season.

The rest of the nominees will be announced in the coming weeks before a reader tournament will be held to determine the girls basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com.

While Kansas City’s four consecutive AFC West crowns aren’t anywhere close to New England’s string of 11 straight AFC East titles, not even the Patriots have dominated their division like the Chiefs have ruled theirs over the last five seasons.

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