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Smith: Loss to Streator has Morris hoops fans scratching their heads

Morris junior forward Austin Patterson, shown here in an earlier game against Yorkville, led the Redskins with 13 points Tuesday in a 51-49 loss to Streator.
Morris junior forward Austin Patterson, shown here in an earlier game against Yorkville, led the Redskins with 13 points Tuesday in a 51-49 loss to Streator.

STREATOR – Considering how well the Morris boys basketball team has been playing this winter, and considering the fact that Streator entered Tuesday’s game against the Redskins with a 7-15 record, it truly was a surprise to see the Bulldogs come away with a 51-49 decision in the Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover game.

“It didn’t surprise the three of us here,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said pointing to his coaching staff after the game.

He was referring to the intensity the hosts came out with.

Just like a couple of weeks ago when Morris lost a regular season, nonconference, weekday game to Reed-Custer (at home mind you), the Redskins loaded up the bus, drove to Streator and laid an egg there.

“It’s a total trap game, but you know, elite programs come to play and compete and get the job done,” Blumberg said. “Conference or nonconference, during the week or on the weekend, versus a state ranked team or a team not ranked …”

Morris certainly was not in the game from the onset as the Redskins fell behind, 11-0. Morris did get a 3-pointer from Austin Patterson, but it was the start of a long night from him from the field. He was 3 of 14 for 13 points, and he was not alone. As a team Morris was 6 for 24 from the field in the first half.

However, the Redskins do pretty much run the offense through Patterson and from what I’ve seen it can be feast (against Yorkville) or famine (R-C and Streator). Too often, at least from the stands, it looks like Morris is waiting for Patterson to score instead of having an offense that just flows. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one person, especially now that teams know what kind of talent he is.

Of course, despite everything – including a technical foul and a benching – Morris was within 24-21 by halftime, the score was 34-34 after three and the game was tied at 45 heading to overtime.

The Redskins had the ball with the game tied at 45 with 49 seconds left and proceeded to run the clock down to nine seconds before calling another time out. They looked out of sorts for most of that 49 seconds, and ended up missing a last-second shot and rebound-putback attempt, putting the game into overtime.

The same was true with five seconds left in the overtime. Morris was trailing 51-49 – which ended up being the final score – when all the Redskins did was put up a desperation 3-point attempt for the chance to win it. All in all, they just looked out of sorts. 

“Guys wanted to do things on their own instead of using each other,” Blumberg said.

Blumberg said he was frustrated after the game, even though his team is in first place in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.

“We’re in the lead. Unfortunately, they want to be remembered for that right now. That’s why I am frustrated,” he said. “I think as much as we try, the guys are still patting themselves on the back for wins over DeKalb and Sycamore and they are looking ahead to Kaneland. Streator is too good of a program, they are too well coached and they play too hard to do that. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but I don’t think we defended or rebounded or executed well enough to win.”

Kind of like that loss to Reed-Custer.

In some ways, Blumberg is actually hoping that’s true.

“I will say this, some of our losses have been very good for us,” he said. “They brought us back to earth. Early against Coal City in November did that. The game against Reed-Custer did that, and I hope we have the same response to this loss.”

Morris hosts Kaneland on Friday night.

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