McEachern’s Mesha Morris played more of a supporting role than usual when her team faced Marietta on Friday in an important Region 5-AAAAA basketball game.
The 5-foot-7 wing player was limited to three points in 12 minutes against a big Marietta team that has four players at 5 feet 11 or taller. The importance of supporting a teammate, however, is a lesson Morris has learned all too well, both on and off the court, in a sophomore year that has been more difficult than she ever could have imagined.
Morris’ world turned upside down in September, when the flooding that affected west Cobb County hit particularly hard in her Powder Springs neighborhood, destroying her home and leaving her with virtually nothing.
“It was around 3 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “My mom woke up, and she came into my room and told me that I had to get on some clothes so that we could hurry up and get out of the house. I stepped down and I stepped into water.”
Morris said that she and her mother, Mecie Morris, had to wait more than two hours before fire-department rescue crews could reach them and get them to safety. Morris said she was told that the water eventually was more than 5 feet high in their one-story house. Morris had the clothes on her back, and she was able to retrieve her volleyball bag.
“That day when we left the fire department, we went straight to Wal-Mart and got stuff that I needed just for that day,” she said. “It was weird ... I had nothing. When we moved, I didn’t have anything to take.”
Morris and her mother moved into an apartment owned by the owner of their previous home. Eventually they moved into another house in Powder Springs, near the apartment.
Through it all, her McEachern teammates, coaches and fellow students have been there to help. Phyllis Arthur, McEachern’s girls basketball coach and an assistant on the volleyball team, said the coaches at the school took up a donation, and her volleyball teammates provided some things for her. She also said that each year the basketball team raises money to provide Christmas gifts for a needy family in the community. This year they decided to adopt two families, one of which was Morris and her mother.
“I thought she was going to break down and cry, because she’s very soft and takes everything to heart. But it happened in the middle of volleyball season, and she did not miss one day of practice, did not miss one day of volleyball, and didn’t ask for anything. She never came to me and said, ‘Coach, I don’t have anything.’”
McEachern (16-4, 11-2) won 57-46 on Friday to keep pace with North Cobb and Etowah in the region race; all three teams entered the night with two region losses. The hero was Dominique Wilson, who scored 17 of her game-high 25 points in the second half as the Indians pulled away after leading 22-19 at halftime. But it was Morris who got the biggest crowd reaction of the night when her 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter gave McEachern a 15-point lead.
“I just thought it was going to affect her one way or another, that she wasn’t going to be able to play, she wasn’t going to be able to concentrate or focus,” Arthur said. “But I think sports is what helped her survive.”