STREATOR — For the Morris boys basketball team, the first shoe came off on Tuesday at Streator right from the opening tipoff. The second one fell at the end of overtime. When it was all over, it amounted to a dropped Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover game with the Bulldogs by a 51-49 score.
The game started with Morris trailing 11-0 at the onset and then ended with the Redskins closing out both the end of regulation and the overtime in haphazard fashion, leading to the Streator win.
"They played harder than us. They executed better than us and we couldn't stop (William) Phillips," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said of the first shoe drop at the start.
Phillips scored the first seven points of the game for Streator and the lead was 11-0 when Austin Patterson hit a 3-point field goal for Morris with 2:47 left to go in the opening segment. Morris did rally to close the gap to 14-9 by the end of the first, but the first statement had already been made.
"They (Bulldogs) are too well coached and they are too hungry. They play too hard not to come out and punch us in the mouth. And we respond by playing poorly," Blumberg said.
Though Morris did rally and make up for the early dismal play — shooting 6-of-24 in the first half — the Redskins trailed all the way until 5:59 was left in regulation when they finally led 37-36. After a trey by Jake Walker made it 40-36, the teams exchanged two free throws before Streator went on a 7-0 run. Austin Patterson's 3-pointer with 1:24 to go tied the game at 45, but then after a Streator turnover with about a minute left, the Redskins let the clock wind all the way down before missing two shots in the last seconds.
In overtime, Morris had the final possession trailing with :05.3 left when it missed a desperation trey at the buzzer that secured Streator the win.
"The overtime possession we did not move the ball very well together and the guys wanted to do things on their own instead of using each other," Blumberg said of the sequences. "What was executed there was not one of the three options we drew up."