BRISTOL, Va. – As the lone returning starter for Abingdon High School’s girls basketball team, Morgan Blevins has gone from being a key part of a Fab Five to the headliner of a Fresh Five.
Blevins scored 20 points and showcased her versatility on Tuesday night as the new-look Falcons overwhelmed John Battle for a 57-23 Mountain 7 District triumph.
Blevins averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season as Abingdon won 23 games, finished as Region 3D runner-up and advanced to the VHSL Class 3 state quarterfinals.
Peyton Carter (Tennessee Tech), Emily Breeding (Bluefield College) and Sarah Walters (Emory & Henry College) graduated and are now playing basketball at the collegiate level, while Cassidy Farley has continued her volleyball career at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
Blevins has boosted her performance as a holdover from that talented group.
“ It’s definitely been different, but it’s been fun,” Blevins said. “I’ve played with this group of girls my whole life and I think we’re getting better every single game.”
Abingdon coach Jimmy Brown has liked what he’s seen from Blevins, a 5-foot-11 senior who has signed with the volleyball team at UVa-Wise.
“ Really her job last year was to make wide-open jumpers and rebound,” Brown said. “Now, she’s bringing the ball down some, she’s our leading rebounder and is scoring for us in a lot of different ways. She’s just really stepped up to the challenge. I’m proud of what she’s doing and everybody around her is starting to step up and play better.”
Blevins was on her game from the start Tuesday.
She scored nine of Abingdon’s 11 first-quarter points and fired a pinpoint pass to Randi Osborne that resulted in the team’s other bucket.
Battle (0-4) simply had no answer for Blevins.
“ Everything they do goes through Blevins and I don’t blame Jimmy Brown for that – I’d go through her every time too,” said John Battle coach Jeff Adkins. “The other kids feed off her.”
Chloe Turman and Osborne drained 3-pointers in the first 51 seconds of the second quarter to kickstart an eight-minute stretch in which AHS outscored the Trojans, 20-4.
“ Too many turnovers,” Adkins said. “I really thought we had turned the corner, but Abingdon wore us out.”
Junior Anna McKee’s 11 points paced the Trojans, who have games remaining this week with Wise County Central, Ridgeview and Gate City – the top three squads in the Mountain 7.
“ This week gets no easier,” Adkins said. “I told them in the locker room this will be the shortest speech in history, ‘You have to grow up.’ They have to grow up and have ownership of what they do. I have to figure out who can do the job on the floor.”
Osborne (13 points) and freshman Ella Seymore (10 points) also played well for AHS (3-3), which rebounded from Monday night’s loss at Ridgeview.
“ We lost a lot, but we have some kids that played minutes in big games,” Brown said. “Now, we’re just asking them to do different things for us and they are taking on different roles. We knew this year it might take us a while to get going, but the last couple of games we’ve played well, even with the limited practices. We’re getting better and as a coach that’s all you can ask for.”