Seven games in just under 24 hours. By the time that Ottawa and Rockton Hononegah met for the championship of the 2013 Morris Ladies Shootout, they had already played 240 hours of basketball in two days.
Showing signs of that kind of exposure to the game, the Indians managed to outlast the Pirates by a 33-27 score in the final game of the championship bracket. In fact, Hononegah led 26-12 with 4:32 left before halftime and then did not score again until eight minutes was left in the game. At that time they led Ottawa 29-20.
“We really shot well in the game before (Central Catholic) but we didn’t shoot very well in the (championship) game,” Hononegah coach Randy Weibel said. “Ottawa packed it inside and wasn’t going to let us beat them on the inside. If we had made some threes it would have opened up some things for us. But they are a great team and a well-coached team.”
Weibel would know that about the Pirates and coach Mike Cooper because they are friends.
“They beat us at their tournament by one or two points. Coop is a good friend of mine and it’s fun to play against him,” Weibel said. “He knows all of our sets and we know some of the things he does, so it’s fun. We got them this time but if we had to play them a third time, it would be just as close.”
Cooper thinks the Indians may have used that revenge factor as motivation in getting them over the hump.
“It was a hard-fought game. We played them about two weeks ago and we beat them in our tournament. So they had a little bit of a revenge factor today,” Cooper said. “But the kids played hard. Seven games in two days is a lot of games for us. We don’t have a lot of bigs, but I thought our guards really played well and had an outstanding tournament.”
Weibel said that he was proud of the fortitude of his team.
“The girls went 7-0 in two days and that’s a lot of games,” he said. “They are tough kids and got through it.”
Ottawa’s 6-1 run included an impressive and somewhat surprising win over Andrew.
“We’re kind of like the Little Engine that Could,” Cooper said. “We play hard and scratch and claw and try to fight for every rebound we can. We made enough big plays to get the job done.”
Judging by the Pork Chops
This year’s Ladies Shootout was run by new Morris varsity basketball coach Kate Carey. She took over for Luke Windy this past offseason, but coaches in attendance felt things still were largely the same as they have been.
“I haven’t tried the pork chops yet. I’ll tell you that if the pork chops are different then it’s a different shootout,” Minooka coach Ray Liberatore said. “But seriously, it’s well run. In our situation, driving 20 minutes to play games is awesome. And we got some great weather. Obviously Luke is a friend and somebody I miss, but otherwise I thought everything went well.”
Hononegah coach Weibel said that his team has been all over to various shootouts in his tenure and that the Morris Ladies Shootout stacks up with the best.
“I love it. We’ll be back if they have us. It’s our first time down here and we like it that we get to see totally different teams. Other than Ottawa and Sycamore, we’ve never seen those teams that we played before. It was a great tournament for us,” he said. “Good, good, the officiating was good, everything was good. It’s also run by good people. I also like the fact that any time we had a small injury, there was a trainer right there. That’s huge. A lot of tournaments are not like that. We’ll definitely be back if they’ll have us.”
Coal City was at the event for the first time and coach Brad Schmitt echoed similar sentiments.
“I told Kate that it was fantastic,” he said. “It was very well one and is one of the better shootouts. We would love to come back next year. The girls enjoyed it. It was great competition and you can’t beat that.”
Carey said that it was more or less trial by fire.
“I wanted to wait as long as possible before putting to together because I wasn’t sure who my staff was going to be,” she said. “It was like doing it under the gun. Being my first time running it, I felt the pressure because I was asked to keep up a tournament with a great reputation that has been run so well.”
Carey said that there were four fewer teams at the event this year but that otherwise things were about the same.
“The schedule flowed well and Joe Thomas did a good job of handling the referees. He was a huge help,” Carey said. “Luke (Windy) was also a huge help. He was more than willing to help me. He went out of his way to help. It’s nice to have his support.”
The Indians went 3-3 on the day, including a 34-30 over Peoria Notre Dame in the championship bracket to end the day.
“I think we did really good. We have a lot of girls who are determined to do really good, even in the heat. Though the heat was worse last year,” Minooka senior guard Erin Heide said. “We’re just trying to get better as a team. We have a lot of girls who dedicated themselves to playing this summer. A lot of seniors — six seniors and I think all of them can help us this year. We’re getting better every day.”
And finishing with the victory?
“It’s nice to leave with a win, even though we went 3-3 here,” Heide said. “I like coming here every year. It’s nice that you get to play a lot of games against good competition. That makes it fun to be around.”
Liberatore said that the highlight of the tournament was closing action on Tuesday with a win against Hillcrest.
“We ended up 3-3. The highlight is how well we played against Hillcrest. That was the third game (Tuesday),” Liberatore said. “I’ve been coaching for a lot of years now and never beaten Hillcrest. Not that it’s about me, but we did a great job. Everyone did a nice job of finding the open person. That’s a win where you can look back later and say, “when you play against some good competition, we’re capable of beating them.”
Coal City Wrap
The Coalers went 3-0 on Wednesday to finish the tournament with a 4-2 record. On Wednesday they beat Yorkville 26-19, Plainfield South 35-10 and Morris 34-24.
“I think we played three quality teams today,” Coal City coach Brad Schmitt said. “I think we hung in there against everybody. That’s what we were looking forward to. That and getting better every day.”
The game marks the first time in recent history that Morris and Coal City met in a varsity game in any arena.
“The girls just looked at it like it was another summer game,” Schmitt said. “Every game is important to us. That’s why we are here and it’s exactly what we are looking for.”
Morris went 3-3 at the tournament after beating Plainfield South 26-19 and Yorkville 51-37 on Wednesday before losing to Coal City.
“It’s true that the scores don’t count, but I thought we did make a statement today,” Carey said. “The Yorkville game was big because it makes a statement to the teams in our conference (Northern Illinois Big 12) that we’re not just going to be a team who just plays for fun. We’ve already sent that message. I saw what I was wanting to see over the last two games. That they are going to give 150 percent. I told the girls that if they are going to play like that, they may not be perfect but they are going to be tough.”