PLANO — After coming off a four-game stretch to start the Plano Christmas Classic where they shot a paltry 26 percent from beyond the arc, the Morris Redskins finally got hot again as they competed for seventh place on Saturday night. The Redskins hit 8-for-19 from deep and defeated the Newark Norsemen 42-37.
The Redskins raced out to a 9-2 lead as senior guard Jake Hogan knocked down his first three trifectas of the night, all in succession.
“Hitting the shots early was definitely a big confidence boost for me,” Hogan said. “It also helped with the team. It just started getting everyone rolling and on the same page.”
Hogan would add a fourth three-pointer later on and wound up leading Morris with 13 points on the night. Meanwhile, standout Newark freshman Jack Clausel would find himself with two quick fouls, and would only go on to score four points while managing foul trouble.
In the second quarter, a three by sophomore forward Austin Patterson would give the Redskins a 14-9 lead. Patterson would knock down three of four from behind the arc on the night and would finish with 11 points and four rebounds to go along with three assists. However, Newark senior Brett Anderson would answer with a jumper moments later that would cut the Morris lead to one.
Anderson would finish with 24 points on the night and averaged 14.6 points per game for the tournament. The numbers were down from last year, when he averaged 26 points and nine rebounds a night in Plano, but Morris was still forced to focus their efforts on limiting Anderson’s touches.
“With a player like that, you gotta make him work on defense and try to tire his legs a bit on that end of the floor,” Morris head coach Joe Blumberg said. “You gotta be physical with him, but really it starts with the other four guys (not guarding him). If guys are in helping and guys are pressuring the basketball, he can’t catch the ball where he wants to.”
In the second half, Anderson would almost single-handedly get Newark back into the game, scoring 10 straight points and giving Newark their first lead of the game when he hit a three from the wing with less than three minutes remaining.
However, after starting off just 2-for-10 from the field, Morris senior Ben Ortiz was able to answer with back-to-back buckets to regain Morris’ lead. On the other end of the floor, Ortiz was able to corral Anderson and Morris held the Norseman scoreless after the go-ahead three.
“I thought Ben stepped up on the defensive end, but he also knocked down some big shots to give us the lead back. Their senior stepped up, and I thought a few of our seniors stepped up in a key spot in the game,” Blumberg said. “You like to see that, especially in a rivalry game with hardware on the line.”
Ortiz would follow up his two big shots by knocking down the front and back end of a one-and-one to give Morris a 41-37 lead late. Ortiz would finish with 11 points on the night.
For the tournament he would average 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. Meanwhile, the Redskins would finish at 3-2 during the 50th installment of the Plano Christmas Classic and gained valuable momentum heading back into Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East play.
“It was good to end on a high note, because going into the New Year it’s gonna help us. I think we got Sycamore next, so hopefully it helps there,” Hogan said.