PLANO — Coming off of a defeat at the hands of fourth-seeded Newark at the Plano Holiday Classic, it might have been easy for the members of Morris boys basketball team to hang their heads and go through the motions for the rest of the tournament.
The 12th-seeded Redskins, however, shook off the defeat and started fresh Thursday, outscoring Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference rival Kaneland, the eighth seed, in every quarter en route to a 45-26 win to advance to Friday's fifth-place game against No.14 Peoria Notre Dame. Tipoff is at 5 p.m.
"After rewatching the Newark film, we were very disappointed with our team's effort," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. "We didn't move without the ball, weren't sharp cutting to open space, and didn't attack versus their doubles. And our lack of offensive success led to poor defensive intensity and close outs. It's unacceptable and I feel bad for our fans that drove up to support us. We should be better than that."
The Redskins (5-5) gave the fans a show Thursday night, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the early going and holding a 9-4 advantage through the first quarter. Morris extended its lead to 18-7 at halftime and 33-18 at the end of the third quarter.
"I thought our guys responded unbelievably well tonight," Blumberg said. "We converted layups off doubles and traps. I thought we attacked the offensive glass and did a good job defending Kaneland's posts. As the minutes ticked, and our lead grew, Kaneland increased their pressure, and for the most part, we responded."
"Josh Lain and Kam Dransfeldt sparked us off the bench. Nate Halcomb was very good in the defensive end Ty Spiezio was more aggressive attacking the run off the bounce and cuts."
Lain was 2 of 2 from the field to finish with four points and added four rebounds, while Dransfeldt blocked a shot and had three steals. Matt Shaw led the Redskins in scoring with 16 points and added five rebounds, while JaQuan Boxley had 11 points to go with four rebounds and two steals. Spiezio led with nine rebounds and chipped in with eight points.
"Getting back to the Newark game, we asked our guys after today's game: If you had played as hard against Newark as you did tonight, could the outcome have been different? And their collective answer was, absolutely," Blumberg said. "And that's the tough part about not giving a max effort. They will never get that opportunity or chance back. Ever. The pain of discipline and effort is never as difficult as the pain of regret."
"We will have our hands full with a lengthy Peoria Notre Dame team, but we have a chance to finish the tournament 4-1 and above .500 heading into the new year. With the football run and lack of practice time at the start of the season, I think 6-5 would be an accomplishment."
Newark 65, Burlington Central 57: The Norsemen (9-1) got 22 points from Dylan Patrick and 21 from Will Clausel in the tournament semifinals and upset the top seed. The Norsemen, who finished third in the tournament last season, will take on Ottawa for the title Friday night at 8.
St. Bede 43, Seneca 41: At the St Bede Tournament. the Lady Irish spotted the hosts an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and trailed 27-14 at halftime.
"We just couldn't overcome St. Bede's great start," Seneca coach Barb Beck said. "The ladies had a great second half and just came up a little short."
Lyda Robinson and Cora Wilkinson each had 11 points and six rebounds for Seneca (8-9), while Lexi Greve had 11 points and five boards.