'What more could you ask for?' Father, daughter enjoy thrill of a lifetime in Hope's title run

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Tis the season for daddy-daughter dances.

And nobody cut a rug — or a net — like the Morehouses in the Big Dance.

Brian Morehouse, head coach of the Hope women's basketball team, and Meg Morehouse, a junior guard on the team, capped off a ride to remember in Pittsburgh on Saturday, when the Flying Dutch won the Division III national championship. It was Hope's third national title, and first since 2006.

Brian and Meg Morehouse got to enjoy the ride to a national championship together.

During post-championship net-cutting ceremonies, it's usually one person to a ladder. But not Saturday night. Father and daughter cut down the nets together.

"I've watched multiple players go through my Dad's program ... and you always dream about it," Meg Morehouse said after the 71-58 victory over Wisconsin-Whitewater at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

"To be able to do that with my Dad and win a national championship, what more could you ask for as a daughter? That's unreal. That's an amazing experience."

There are lots of stars on this Hope team, starting with senior guards Kenedy Schoonveld, the D3Hoops.com player of the year who's in line to win more top national accolades, and Sydney Muller, the most outstanding player of the Division III tournament. And the list goes on and on for a team that subbed very much like a hockey team, five at a time — though it was four more recently, following the season-ending injury to junior forward Savannah Feenstra. The depth difference was huge against Wisconsin-Whitewater, which looked gassed at the end of the title game.

Ten Hope players averaged at least 5.0 points a game this season, and that includes Morehouse.

Her stats are modest from afar — 5.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.6. assists. She's played 74 games in three seasons at Hope, and hasn't started any of them.

But defensively, she's a rock. In Saturday's final, Morehouse, 5-foot-7, only played 12 minutes and had one rebound, but she also was charged with guarding one of Wisconsin-Whitewater's top performers, freshman guard Kacie Carollo, who was limited to 11 points. She didn't score in two Final Four games, but helped make sure her opponents didn't, either. She was a big reason Hope held opponents to 48.8 points a game.

Meg Morehouse is the prototypical player for Hope. She can actually score (17 at Alma on Jan. 13), but Hope doesn't really need her to. Instead, she's one of the faces of the so-called "Chaos Crew," Hope's bench unit that could go toe-to-toe with most programs' starting five. At Hope, everyone has a role to play, from 1A to the farther reaches of the bench — a formula that helped the Flying Dutch go undefeated each of the last two seasons, and win 61 games in a row, until that streak was snapped in January.

That was Hope's lone loss in three seasons, to Trine, which Hope then beat in these national semifinals.

"It's nice to see a group effort be validated," said Brian Morehouse, "instead of just an individual one."

And to see that group effort include your daughter, well, that's extra special.

Meg Morehouse, 21, who watched as a young kid when Hope won its national championship in 2006 and finished runner-up in 2010 (and even worked as a ball girl, along with Brian and Liz Morehouse's youngest daughter, Emma), had some slight reservations about moving from Zeeland East High to Hope. She didn't want the perception that she only got the roster spot because of her Dad.

Meg Morehouse puts up a shot in the national semifinals as her Dad and head coach Brian Morehouse looks on.

But the rest of the Hope roster quickly knew she belonged. She worked hard, didn't take anything for granted, and most importantly, she earned her teammates' trust.

There's a lot of conversation that goes on off the court between teammates, and Meg Morehouse never relayed any of that to Brian Morehouse — when it would've been easy and natural to do so.

In a lot of ways, for the last three years, Meg Morehouse was a Hope College player first, and the daughter of the Hope College coach second. At least, until that net-cutting celebration.

"It's the best. I go to work every day and I get to see my kid every day. Now, I have to yell at her at a lot, but I get to go see my kind every single day and it's a blessing," said Brian Morehouse, whose run over the last three years including so many highs and lows — all the wins, but also the cancellation of two NCAA Tournaments because of COVID-19. "It's just special. I thought it would be hard when she came to Hope, and it's been anything but. A lot of it goes to just that she is an incredibly hard worker, she's an incredible teammate and leader, that makes it easy for her to be embraced by her team.

"And it makes it easy for me to coach her."

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984