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Boys basketball: Morris struggles in loss to Ottawa

MORRIS – On Dec. 29, the Morris boys basketball team lost to Ottawa, 55-44, in the Plano Christmas Classic.

Just more than a week later, the Redskins got their chance at revenge, taking on the Pirates on Saturday in a Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover game.

Unfortunately for Morris, the Pirates were the team that turned in a better performance than they had a week before and blitzed the Redskins, 60-36.

Morris (3-12) fell behind, 2-0, on a basket by Ottawa’s Tyler Carson, but scored the next five points to take a 5-2 lead. Jacob Overbeck drained a 3-pointer to put the Redskins ahead, 3-2, then Kameron Dransfeldt scored underneath off a feed by Overbeck to put Morris ahead, 5-2.

Ottawa, though, outscored Morris, 12-1, during the rest of the first quarter and took a 14-6 lead into the second.

The two teams traded baskets to start the second quarter, with Myles Tucker, who led all scorers with 13 points, scoring for Ottawa and Tyler Spiezio
(seven points, 10 rebounds) scoring for Morris. Wyatt Hill and Tucker then connected on back-to-back long 3-pointers to put Ottawa ahead, 22-8.

After another Tucker basket, Spiezio and Overbeck scored on consecutive possession for Morris to cut the lead to 24-12. Ottawa countered with putback buckets by Russell Brent and Carson (eight points) before Morris’ Kyle Litchfield (five points) made three free throws to pull Morris to within 28-15. Ottawa scored the final four points of the half to take a 32-15 lead at halftime.

“I can handle losing,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “We are going to face teams that are better than us and we are going to have some losses. What I cannot accept is not competing.

“We had a great week of practice. We thought we had made some tweaks and adjustments that would have us prepared, but clearly we weren’t, and that’s on me as the coach.”

Ottawa put the game out of reach early in the second half, as Morris committed turnovers on its first five possessions of the third quarter and Ottawa had scored 10 points before Morris took its first shot of the quarter. Sophomore Jack Walker broke the scoreless drought with a pair of free throws with 5:37 left in the third, and Litchfield scored on a short jumper with 4:35 left to make it 42-19. Ottawa then scored the last nine points of the third quarter to take a 51-19 lead into the final quarter.

Both teams played their reserves most of the way through the fourth quarter, and Morris’ Chad Heren made the most of his opportunity by hitting three 3-pointers and finishing with a team-leading nine points. Freshman Colin Cummings also hit a 3-pointer in the quarter as Morris scored 17 points in the period.

“Our second team got to play a lot of minutes tonight,” Blumberg said. “That was good because they work just as hard at practice as anyone. It was good to see Chad Heren hit a few shots and Kyle Litchfield ran the offense well.

“We need to cut down on our turnovers, though, or it’s going to be awfully tough to win.”

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