Motivation can come from anywhere.
Just ask Becky Morris.
The Golden Valley senior felt embarrassed when she opened the newspaper last week and didn't find her name listed among the top rebounders in the area.
"My name was nowhere to be found," Morris said. "I needed to change that."
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She took a big step on Tuesday night.
Morris scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds as Golden Valley defeated Merced 50-41 at Cougar Arena.
"She can be a shot in the gut to the other team," said GV coach Chris Tufts, whose team improved to 3-1 in the Central California Conference and 9-10 overall.
"Especially when she plays with that tenacity and toughness."
Morris and fellow senior Porsha Grayson (16 points) helped Golden Valley pull away midway through the second half.
Merced (2-2, 5-12) scored the first six points of the third quarter to take a 30-27 lead.
However, GV answered back with a 6-0 run of its own to take a 33-30 into the fourth quarter.
Tufts made it clear to his team he felt they had Merced on the ropes.
"Our depth was getting to (Merced) a little bit," Tufts said. "They were getting a little tired.
"We were able to get in the paint. I wanted them to just keep it up."
Grayson, who played almost the entire game in foul trouble, jumpstarted the fourth quarter with a layup and a 3-pointer.
Morris scored on a putback and suddenly Merced was staring at a 40-30 deficit with 5:56 left in the game.
Not the spot Merced coach Brad Reed wanted to be in a game in which points weren't coming in bunches.
"We were settling for outside shots a lot," Reed said. "That was not our intention as coaches, but that's what we kept doing.
"We just weren't patient enough. We weren't staying with the continuity of our offense. That's what we've been working on all year."
Lauren Lily led Merced with 16 points.
Shelly Blackwell added seven points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
"In a close game like that, four plays anywhere in the game can make the difference," Reed said.
"I don't think we've shot the ball worse than that."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.