MORRIS – It’s safe to say that the Morris boys basketball team did not have the day Thursday at the 29th Annual Morris Boys Shootout that they envisioned when they went to bed Wednesday night.
The Redskins had already accommodated a request from downstate Morton and agreed to play in the afternoon bracket, so that Morton’s team could fulfill another obligation. Then, the day got even more interesting.
Decatur MacArthur, which did not show up for Wednesday’s games at all, failed to show Thursday, either. As a result, Minooka, which lost to Bradley-Bourbonnais at 8 a.m., found itself without a 10 a.m. opponent. In the spirit of being neighborly and giving Minooka a game to play, Morris coach Joe Blumberg agreed to play the Indians’ contingent, itself hardly the full roster it will play with during the winter, with mainly his second and third teams. Minooka ended up beating Morris, 47-32, moving the Indians ahead to the 1 p.m. game in the Maroon tournament’s consolation bracket.
Time for another plot twist.
Minooka then announced that they would not have enough players for the 1 p.m. game and decided to go home, leaving the 1 p.m. slot open. Morris, being the host, took on Kankakee with the same players they had against Minooka, and lost, 40-29. The Redskins, who were not scheduled to play until 2 p.m., had already played twice and had to play a powerful Normal Community team.
Without leading scorer Austin Patterson – whose father was undergoing surgery Thursday – the Redskins were unable to mount much offense against Normal and lost 62-35. Jake Walker led Morris with 17 points in that game, with Griffin Sobol finishing with four points and Cody Niewinski, Jordan Miracle, Jacob Brady and Evan Bjelland added three each.
Morris’ next game was against Galesburg, but the Redskins were missing even more players because ofmembers of the football team attended a 7-on-7 passing clinic.
Galesburg thumped the short-handed Redskins, 54-15, to end Morris’ long, strange trip through the shootout. Bjelland led the team with five points, with Jackson Shannon and Jordan Miracle added four and Graham Lear two.
“It’s frustrating, to say the least,” Blumberg said. “We knew we would take one of the MacArthur games. We called Sandwich and Reed-Custer to see if they could come on short notice, but they had commitments elsewhere. But then we had to fill in for Minooka when they decided to go home, and we had to play another game right after that.
“Then, due to circumstances beyond our program’s control, we didn’t have a full team of guys for our last game. The frustrating thing is that I would have liked to have seen what we could have done with a full team. That said, I am very proud of the guys that stayed and stepped up and played for us.”
Blumberg was referring to the roster of Bjelland, Niewinski, Miracle, Shannon, Matt Walker, Lear, Trevor Mathis, Preston Kyles, Brett Russell, Andrew Eichhorst and Raine Odom that was on the floor in the finale against Galesburg.
“One thing we can take away from this is that our bench will hopefully be much deeper when the winter rolls around because of the experience those guys got in this tournament.”