Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Russell Hons
Jill Morton is a jack of all trades for the Fighting Hawks.
If you were to ask Jill Morton what she does best on the basketball floor, she may not be able to give you a concrete answer. You would probably get the same answer if you were to ask coach Travis Brewster the same question. Whether it be offensively or defensively, Morton has proved to be a reliable option for the Fighting Hawks. Rather than stuff one area in the box score, she stuffs multiple on a consistent basis. Morton has done it since her freshman season in Grand Forks too, so it is no isolated incident.
Coming into this season, Morton had yet to miss a game in her North Dakota career. The Edina, Minnesota, product has played in 97 games in just three years on campus, including logging nearly 1,900 total minutes. Those numbers alone showcase just how valuable an asset Morton has been for North Dakota.
She was second on the team in scoring last season, averaging just over 10 points per game. Morton also led the team in steals with 31 total takeaways last year, further proving her worth on the defensive end of the floor. From a consistency standpoint, Morton’s splits are some of the best on the team. In three seasons, she has shot an efficient 40 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 70 percent from the charity stripe. Those numbers are impressive and it further shows just how versatile Morton is.
However, her play on the court is one thing, her leadership qualities are wholly different from the other five seniors around her. “I am probably less expressive on the court, but I can take people to the side and have a quick conversation with them,” Morton said. “That’s probably my forte.” Other Fighting Hawks seniors, like Lexi Klabo, describe Morton as a “lead by example” sort of player.
The diversification in leadership style is beneficial from a chemistry standpoint according to Morton. She feels that all of the seniors are on the same page every single play. “I think it really helps and it really shows on the court,” Morton said in regards to having five seniors around her. “We just know how each other plays and we can maybe find that extra pass because you’ll know where they’ll be and stuff like that. So I think it’s really helpful to just know the girls you’re playing with, it really can show on the court.”
Jill Morton At A Glance
- All-state performer her senior season in high school. Three-time all-conference selection.
- Holds Edina High School’s career steals record.
- Three-time All-Big Sky Academic Team.
- Led the team with 31 steals in 2017-18.
- Entering her senior season, has not missed a single game for UND.
That is not to say these girls don’t have chemistry off the court either. They frequently do things with one another outside of basketball. From a team chemistry perspective, that only helps the Fighting Hawks seniors perform on the court. Needless to say, each of them have incredible friendships with one another. That is a direct result of playing so many basketball games with one another. However, Morton said the team took specific steps in the offseason to spend time with one another outside of basketball. In her mind, that is what has created such a strong bond in this senior group.
“Especially this year we have gotten a lot closer. Over the summer, we would always do a bunch of team bonding stuff, more than we ever have before,” Morton said about how the seniors have built such a strong bond with one another. “I think that’s really been the main thing, emphasizing team bonding.”
That team bonding obviously translates to play on the court and it is clear that North Dakota has tremendous cohesiveness in that regard. However, it is those team bonding moments that will last a lifetime. Eventually, all of the points Jill Morton scored will be outweighed by the experiences she had with each one of her fellow seniors.
For now, Jill Morton will savor her senior season, as will the other Fighting Hawks seniors. In turn, it is sure to create some excitement on the floor and create memories that none of them will forget. Jill Morton may be able to do it all on the court, and that is important right now. In the end, what matters most is the deep bonds and friendships she has created in her time in Grand Forks. That alone is a testament to her success at the University of North Dakota.