From Concord to Plymouth, trio of sophomores making impact for Panthers

  • Plymouth State’s Veronyca Daniels works the ball into the paint during a game earlier this season. Daniels is joined by two of her former Concord High teammates on the Panthers. AT RIGHT: PSU’s Debra Morrill carries the ball up the court. PLYMOUTH STATE ATHLETICS

  • Current Plymouth State women’s basketball player and Concord High graduate Cassidy Emerson defends during a contest earlier this season. Emerson, along with teammates Debra Morrill and Veronyca Daniels, are in their second season with the Panthers after all three graduated from Concord in 2015. Plymouth State Athletics

  • Plymouth State’s Debra Morrill carries the ball up court during a contest earlier this season. PLYMOUTH STATE ATHLETICS

Monitor staff
Published: 1/29/2017 11:21:27 PM

Waking up for early-morning practices can sometimes be a challenge.

Especially in college.

But in the case of Plymouth State sophomores Cassidy Emerson, Debra Morrill and Veronyca Daniels, help is never more than a bunk away.

The Concord High graduates and former Crimson Tide basketball players are in their second year as members of the Plymouth State women’s basketball team, and their first as roommates. And the latter, the trio made clear, has already proven pretty convenient.

“If somebody’s not getting up in time, you get them up and we all get going,” said Morrill, who leads the Panthers with an 87.5 free-throw percentage through 18 games. “You know you want to do it, so you do it. People who don’t get up for practice or class, they don’t want to do it.”

Concord’s trio have made significant impacts on the rebuilding program already this season, helping the team to a 5-13 overall record (2-7 in Little East Conference play). Which, when compared with last season’s 6-20 overall record, is a step in the right direction.

Second-year Plymouth Coach Allison Flynn said it’s rare to see three former high school teammates playing together in college, especially ones from the same class year. But, she said, it’s something she’d welcome again in the future.

“They’ve had a bond and they came to college with that bond,” said Flynn, who was formally an assistant with Saint Anselm College. “They can read each other very well. They know where each other are going to be and they know each other’s strengths. Having them has been wonderful.”

For the most part, their journey to Plymouth was more of a coincidence than a plan among friends. Both Emerson and Morrill settled on the Division III school in order to extend their athletic careers in two sports – the pair also plays on the school’s softball team alongside another CHS graduate in senior Katie Kennard. In Daniels’s case, Plymouth provided the academic opportunities she was seeking, as well as a chance to play basketball at the next level.

And though the friends took the advice of school officials as freshmen by rooming with strangers as a way to meet new people, all three agreed there was still a certain level of comfort in having a familiar face nearby.

“College is a huge change as it is, so I think knowing two people going into something that I was already nervous about definitely helped,” said Emerson, who ranks first on the team with a 33.3 field goal percentage.

Daniels, whose sister and father also attended the school, echoed those thoughts.

“I felt really comfortable going in knowing I had two friends with me,” she said. “It’s a little different when you’re going into it and you don’t really know anyone and you’ve got to make new friends, so it was definitely helpful having them here.”

The three athletes – along with a fourth roommate – moved into an apartment over the summer, bringing them even closer together both on and off the court. And the added support has come in handy for more than just wake-up calls, given the riggers of balancing a full academic schedule with athletics.

Daniels said her roommates help motivate her academically, especially when it comes to studying between classes, or during rare downtime before practice or on a lengthy road trip.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” she said. “I guess the difference between high school and college is that you have to commit a lot more time to it. It has its challenges, so I’m definitely happy to have these two with me.”

Emerson agreed.

“We don’t play only 45 minutes away anymore – we have to go to different states,” she said. “So for me personally, the biggest challenge - because classes do fill up quick – is finding earlier classes so you can work around your game schedule.”

As far as their coach is concerned, Concord’s three have balanced their schedules gracefully. Flynn, who credited Emerson for helping seal the deal in a win over UMass-Boston earlier this season with a pair of clutch free throws late in the game, said all three players have become leaders in their own way.

“Deb, being a point guard, will put both of them in positions where they’ll be successful, and Cass is such a competitor who wants to master everything she does,” Flynn said. “Veronyca has also really come on strong to give us guard play that we seek against other teams.”

Flynn said the trio’s successes together are relatively rare at such an early stage in their collegiate careers, which Emerson, Morrill and Daniels argue, circles back to familiarity.

“When we came in, we already knew what works well for each other or where we’re going to want the ball,” Morrill said. “That’s something you normally learn in like the beginning of a season with new teammates, so to come in and already know that was a help.”

Where that familiarity takes them from here, Flynn said, she’s excited to find out.

“The future for the three of them is very bright,” she said. “They come to practice, they listen, they’re focused and all three of them want to be successful. That’s what our program needs as we continue to build.”

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