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Brunner proud of West Liberty career

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY WEST LIBERTY senior Morgan Brunner goes up for a shot during Wednesday’s Mountain East Conference first-round game against West Virginia State. Brunner, who is a Linsly graduate, concluded her Hilltopper career with 257, 3-point goals.

WHEELING — It took everything Morgan Brunner had in her to fight off the emotions she was feeling Wednesday afternoon.

And who could blame her?

The former Linsly School standout, who is a senior at West Liberty, wrapped up her illustrious basketball playing career, which started when she was in elementary school, with a hard-to-swallow 64-54 loss to West Virginia State in the opening round of the Mountain East Conference Tournament at WesBanco Arena.

“I am trying not to cry,” Brunner said during the postgame press conference. “There are so many emotions involved.”

Brunner went out by doing what she does best and that’s knocking down 3-pointers. She drilled five more and finished her season with 111, which is tops in the nation for Division II.

During her senior year of high school, Brunner signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Youngstown State. Despite seeing quality minutes with the Penguins, she appeared in 54 games and scored 173 points.

But, despite the on-court success, her stay in Youngstown simply never felt right.

“It just didn’t feel like home,” Brunner said. “I would encourage kids in high school now to go where you feel like you’ll fit in and where people are going to be there for you, and I don’t mean just in basketball or sports.”

Brunner found that at West Liberty. She made a seamless transition into the Hilltoppers program, averaging 15 points a game and leading the nation with 108 treys.

“Going to a Division I program, and then coming back home, all in all, was a great learning experience,” Brunner said. “I never envisioned this type of success though.”

For her career, Brunner scored 964 points at West Liberty and finished her collegiate career with 1,137 points.

“Knowing that I was able to leave a mark on this program and have an impact helps to ease the pain,” Brunner said. “My coaches and teammates (at West Liberty) always encouraged me to shoot the ball and that helped to boost my confidence. My teammates were pass first and were able to recognize when someone had the hot hand and found you.”

All told, she connected on 257 bonus goals. Though her deep shooting is what she’s most widely recognized for, she was also lights out at the foul line. She cashed in on 152-of-165 free throws for a 92 percent average.

Brunner really isn’t sure what’s she’s going to do with her free time moving forward. She does know she has the rest of this semster and the fall before she’ll graduate in December with a degree in elementary education.

“The next couple of months of not doing anything (basketball wise) will be tough,” Brunner said. “I am definitely not used to that. Maybe, I’ll play pick-up games or something.”

Brunner’s passion for the game still burns inside of her, which is why she’s giving serious consideration to entering the coaching ranks. She’s actually entertaining the idea of coaching an area travel ball team this spring and summer to give her a taste.

“I thought about coaching (travel) last year, but with workouts and stuff, it was just too difficult, so I’m excited to see how it goes this summer,” Brunner said.

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