Prep Basketball

Morgan Paige heads to Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday

She was a ringleader on Marion's rise to prominence

Former Marion star Morgan Paige will be inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. (Liz Martin/Th
Former Marion star Morgan Paige will be inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — As Morgan Paige walked down a tunnel on the lower level of Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday, she passed by a couple of players of a losing team, crying as they shuffled toward the interview room.

“Oh, man,” Paige said. “I remember that feeling. That was the worst.”

Paige, who helped transform the Marion High School girls’ basketball program into a winner, is back here for a few days. As an assistant coach at North Dakota State, it’s a recruiting trip.

And Saturday night, it will be a rewarding one. She’ll be the first Marion player inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2020 consists of Paige (who graduated in 2010), Maddie Manning (Ankeny, 2012) and Connie Shafer (Bedford, 1965).

“I’m really glad I’ll be able to be here in person,” Paige said. “The Summit League starts the tournament Saturday as well, but we don’t have to play until Sunday.

“I thought this would happen at some point, but it’s still really cool to be recognized at the state level.”

As a sophomore, Paige was on a Marion team — coached by her mother, Sherryl Gaffney-Paige — that reached the state tournament for the first time, advancing to the Class 3A semifinals.

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“I remember we were playing a regional final in Cedar Falls, and we were down by 20 points (to Crestwood) at halftime,” Paige said. “Mom came into the locker room and said, ‘We are not losing this game.’”

Paige’s basket with eight seconds left capped the comeback, 55-53.

Marion returned to state when Paige was as senior, losing in the first round. She was the setter for Marion’s 2008 state-championship volleyball team.

Paige finished her high school career with 1,795 points, then scored 1,230 at the University of Wisconsin. But team success was scarce there.

“We were decent my freshman year,” she said. “We were tied for first place in the Big Ten with seven games to go, but one of our best players got hurt and we lost all seven. Then, we just didn’t get it going again.”

Now 27, Paige spent a year as a graduate assistant at Iowa State, and has been in Fargo since. She is the first assistant and the recruiting coordinator for the Bison, who are 10-18 this season.

“It’s been awesome,” she said. “I’m excited to see what we can build here.”

The Hall of Fame ceremony will be held at halftime of Saturday’s Class 2A championship, probably around 5:30 p.m.

Other girls' basketball honors

Ellie Twedt of Ballard is the recipient of the E. Wayne Cooley Scholarship Award, worth $15,000 over four years as she attends the Iowa university or college of her choice.

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Summer Brand (Mount Vernon), Jamison Feldman (Linn-Mar) and Sushma Santhana (Iowa City Liberty) were among six finalists and receive $1,000 each.

Also, West Marshall Coach Fred Zeller will receive the Basketball Golden Plaque of Distinction and Kent Johnson of Akron-Westfield is the Character Counts Coach of the Year.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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