MORRIS – In the summer, basketball teams are looking for improvement, both from the individuals and the team.
To that end, Morris girls basketball coach Kate Carey considers the Morris Girls Shootout a success for the Redskins. After going 2-1 in pool play, Morris went 1-2 in the Gold Bracket, finishing with a 3-3 record.
For a team that was 9-17 last season, a .500 record in a tournament with quality competition is a definite step in the right direction. In their final game, the Redskins trailed Lincoln-Way West by five points at halftime, rallied in the second half to take a one-point lead and tying the score at 35 with 2:02 to play before falling, 42-37.
"We were still right in the game until the end," Carey said. "I love what I was seeing from our team all weekend. We played with some quality teams without having true practices. We have been having camps where we have been working on individual drills, but as far as full team practices, we haven't had them.
"For our girls to be this successful and not (have) had any real practices, we're thrilled. We competed with three quality opponents both [Tuesday] and [Wednesday]."
Morris fell behind the Warriors 10-6 in the early going, but pulled to within 12-10 and 14-12 before getting as close as 16-15. Lincoln-Way West went on a 6-2 run to end the half with a five-point lead.
West went ahead 24-17 before Morris' Jessica Ponce hit the first of her two second-half 3-pointers. Julie Jurasits and Jessica Jurak each had putbacks for Morris to make it 30-28 before Alex Kjellesvik hit a 3-pointer to give the Redskins a 31-30 lead with 8:47 to play. After the teams traded baskets, West's by Jenna Matthews and Morris' by Mya Shannon, West's Courtney O'Donnell converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Warriors a 37-33 lead. A basket by Ponce with 2:02 left made it 37-35, but West's Emily Atsinger hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-35 with 1:50 to play. Morris got to within 40-37 on a bucket by Leona Burton with 1:32 to go, but West's Stephanie McDonald iced it with a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left.
Earlier in the day, Morris lost to Hononegah, 49-43, and beat Peoria Notre Dame, 36-27.
"This team complements each other on the court very well," Carey said. "They know each other and where they are supposed to be. Plus, when two of your smallest players are in there battling for rebounds just as much as the bigger players, those are the hustle points that you want to get.
"I am excited about the way things are going for us, and I think the girls are, too. Hononegah likes to run and gun, which is not what we want to do, and we are able to do a good job of staying with them. Also, the girls did a great job of keeping their energy up throughout the day."