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Morris drops opener at Ottawa Christmas Classic

OTTAWA – For the last 16 minutes of the opening round game at the Ottawa Christmas Tournament, the Morris Redskins and Lincoln-Way West Warriors played dead even.

However, West outplayed and outscored the locals by 15 points in the first half and then made that stand up for a 70-55 win inside Kingman Gym.

Morris has been running and gunning so far this season, so the 125 combined points was expected said first-year Redskins coach Kate Carey. 

“Yeah, most of our games have been like that. We’re looking to push the ball and a lot of the time that’s the way it ends up,” Carey said. “We’re conditioned for it. We’re prepared for it. Some nights it shows more than others. So, tonight was exactly what I expected.”

What was unexpected was Morris having trouble with the Warriors’ press early on. It caused several turnovers that West turned into a 19-13 lead after one quarter and a 40-25 lead by halftime.

“At the start we weren’t really ready for their pressure,” Morris senior forward Katie Friend said. “In the second half we attacked it more and that is something we needed to do in the first half.”

It was a point of emphasis on Carey’s part.

“We talked about it at halftime. The thing is, we have the ball handlers that can handle the press,” Carey said. “It’s a mental game and once they got the confidence, they knew that we could attack the press and it really wasn’t even a challenge anymore. That was the major difference in the second half. We also talked to them about making defensive stops in the second half. We played the second half the way the first half should have been played.”

After Morris solved the press, the points started flowing. Still, the Redskins could not get within eight points of the Warriors. In the third quarter after an Emily Burling basket it was 50-42 and in the fourth quarter after another Burling basket at 5:32 it was 57-49.

“After we were able to break their press, we were also able to shut them down defensively,” Friend said. 

The change in the momentum of the game was so noticeable that West called a timeout shortly after the second Burling basket and went to spread to salt the game away.

Julie Jurasits led Morris with 28 points in the contest as the Redskins are now 5-5.

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