BRAIDWOOD — Twenty-four turnovers could be insurmountable, or at least problematic, for Morris in most games against most teams. Against Reed-Custer's frenetic full-court press Tuesday, they were almost forgivable.
The Redskins rode a 52-27 advantage in total rebounds, and a total of 18 offensive boards, to a 71-63 win over the host Comets in non-conference varsity boys basketball.
Morris overcame having 10 more turnovers than the Comets — and turning the ball over nine times in the first quarter alone.
"It is a different style of basketball. I've never seen it before," Morris center Ben Ortiz said of the Comets' approach. "We knew it was coming. It's not like they surprised us with it or anything. But it was tough. We had to make adjustments along the way, and I felt we did."
By the end of the first quarter, the Redskins led 14-13, mostly because they were 6-for-10 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point land — with Jake Hogan and Jason Matteson providing makes — while the Comets were 6-for-16 and 1-for-5. Behind threes from Evan Bjelland and Austin Patterson, Morris expanded its lead to 31-25 by halftime.
"We had (Morris) for 16 turnovers in the first half, and we didn't take advantage of it," Reed-Custer coach Mark Porter said. "We were trying to trap and cause turnovers and were able to, especially early, but the offensive rebounds gave them way too many second-chance opportunities. That, and we didn't shoot very well from the three-point line (8-for-32 for the game."
Four Ortiz points and a Bjelland three powered a 12-6 run by the Redskins that spanned the first 3:17 of the second half. Their lead stayed in or near double digits until the fourth quarter was more than halfway over.
Reed-Custer got as close as 66-61 with 2:03 remaining on the fourth three-pointer of the second half by Travis Schoonover, but the Comets never made another field goal. Their 0-for-5 finish helped Morris survive a 5-for-12 showing on free throws in the final 1:30.
"It's a difficult style to play against. You can't mimic it in practice. You can show film, but that only helps so much. They're relentless," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said of the Comets. "I thought we showed strength with the basketball in the middle quarters, after a slow start, and then we got sloppy again in the fourth quarter."
Ortiz led the Redskins in points with 16 and in rebounds with 11. Six Morris players (Ortiz, Tanner Sampson, Hogan, Patterson, Ned Kneller and Matteson) had at least five rebounds; other than Tyler Foote, who had six, nobody from Reed-Custer had more than four.
“To be honest, I would have expected (rebounding) to come more on the defensive end, just because they would take — and hopefully miss — so many long shots,” Blumberg said. “I don’t know if the offensive rebounds were the just result of our own poor shooting, but they were certainly a factor in the win.”
Foote scored 14 points and Schoonover 13 for Reed-Custer.