GIRLS BASKETBALL | MCLEGENDS XI

Times players of the year to be on same team for McLegends

2013-04-19T21:15:00Z 2014-08-13T20:39:18Z Times players of the year to be on same team for McLegendsAllison Buell Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 19, 2013 9:15 pm  • 

Dariyan Morris and Bria Gaines took different paths to becoming basketball stars.

Morris, a 5-foot-3 senior point guard from Merrillville, began playing basketball in the Junior Pirates league at age 4.

Gaines, a 6-2 senior center from Bloom Twp., didn't begin playing basketball until the end of seventh grade and tossed around the idea of playing volleyball instead.

Their paths ran a parallel course as Morris was named The Times Indiana player of the year and Gaines was named The Times Illinois player of the year.

Their paths will meet as Morris and Gaines team up to play in the McLegends XI all-star basketball game at Thornton High School in Harvey. The girls game begins at 11 a.m. today, followed by the boys game at 2 p.m.

The games are sponsored by McDonald's, Coca-Cola, The Times Media Company, Power 92.3 FM and Beggars Pizza.

Morris said she never had the chance to play against or with Gaines and she's looking forward to the opportunity.

So is Gaines.

"All of us had a chance to practice last night," said Gaines, "and Dariyan is a great point guard. Her passes are on the point. We had to take a picture last night, and it was bad because it was after practice when we were sweaty. I had to ask if we were too glossy."

Morris and Gaines both shined on the court during their senior seasons.

Morris averaged 15.0 points, 2.6 assists, 3.5 steals per game, and hit 40 3-pointers in leading Merrillville to the conference and sectional titles.

Gaines averaged 23.7 points  and 16.9 rebounds per game in leading Bloom Twp. to a Class 4A regional title before a season-ending loss to eventual state champion Marian Catholic.

The diminutive point guard and long-limbed center hope to showcase some Skylar Diggins-to-Brittney Griner moments on Saturday. But Morris and Gaines, both known as unselfish team players, will also get their all-star teammates involved in Saturday's game against former local high school and college starts.

"Our goal is to blow out the McLegends," Gaines said. "Our coach told us the high school all-stars lost last year's game by 35 or 40 points. But not on Saturday."

The all-star team also features four players from Marian Catholic: Briana Narcissi, Melanie Ransom, Megan Walsh and Aliyah Isaac. Lowell standouts Katie Bobos and Mackenzie Kreutz will also play.

"It's great to play with an entire team of talented players," Gaines said. "It's much better than having one person to help the team. There's a lot of greatness on our team."

The McLegends all-star game will be a first for both Morris and Gaines.

"I was shocked and surprised and excited when I found out," Morris said. "My coach called me into her office and told me I had been invited."

Morris said she's been eating healthy, running a lot and taking a lot of shots to prepare for the game.

"As a guard I've always had to be a leader," Morris said. "It's a big job and I plan to focus on assists and creating opportunities for my teammates."

After the all-star game both Morris and Gaines will head off to college.

Morris will play basketball at Grace College and study criminal justice. Gaines will play basketball at Western Kentucky University and study physical training.

"I never thought I'd play in an all-star game," Morris said. "This is a big deal and I heard it's popular. I'm counting down the days."

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