CRETE — Morgan Maly can be a scouting report headache for opposing coaches.
The Crete junior stands at 6 feet and can play inside. Yet, she's more dangerous with the ball in her hands on the perimeter. She can muscle her way to the rim, pull up for long threes, hit the mid-range shots, push the ball down the court and dish off to an open teammate. She's a strong passer, a strong cutter and a 90 percent free-throw shooter.
"She can do really just about anything, and that allows her to be very difficult to guard," Crete coach John Larsen says.
As one opposing coach recently said, Maly is the biggest X-factor in Class B, and her impact has helped elevate the No. 3 Cardinals.
Though Maly, who recently committed to Creighton, has the size to be a strong post player, she thinks of herself as a guard.
"I'm more comfortable (there) and I've grown up doing that," said Maly, who is averaging nearly 20 points and eight rebounds per game. "I wasn't always the tallest. I was just a little bit above average, and my youth team had a lot of height, so they'd put me with the guard group and I got to work on my shooting, my mechanics, my ball-handling at a young age. I just kept with it as I grew up."
Maly said she "shot up" heightwise right before high school. She made an impact on the court as a freshman, immediately drawing the attention of several defenders and junk defenses.
"I think you have to get the right mindset," Maly said of the extra defensive attention. "I saw it when I was young and that kind of frustrated me and I didn't know how to deal with it. I've just matured and kind of grown into it and I know what works now and how to deal with it."
Crete is benefiting from it. Maly's ability to draw multiple defenders has left open a lot of shots for her teammates, and they're hitting them. The Cardinals (14-4) have won seven straight games since a three-point loss at Class C-1 No. 1 Wahoo on Jan. 5, and that included a run to the Central Conference Tournament championship last week.
"As long as they make their share of shots, that will open things up for (Morgan)," Larsen said. "That's kind of what's happening. It's (sophomore) Hannah Newton some games, (sophomore) Lexi Mach, (freshman) Brooke Deisley. Teams haven't just been able to disregard them."
Maly's success reached a milestone during the Central Conference Tournament championship win against Seward on Saturday. She surpassed the 1,000-point career milestone in that game.
"My brother mentioned it," Maly said when asked if she was aware of approaching 1,000. "He keeps stats and comes to all of the games. He kept track and said, 'You know you're at 900 right now?'"
Now Maly, who also helped lead Crete to a state softball championship in 2017 as a Super-State catcher, has some bigger hopes in mind.
"Another conference championship for sure and a deep run in the postseason, because we haven't done that in about 10 years," she said. "The support we get in the community is really good, and we just want to do it for them."