MORRIS — The second half Friday night was much better for the Morris boys basketball team in a Northern Illinois Big 12 matchup with Yorkville. Unfortunately for the Redskins, it wasn't quite enough as Yorkville came away with a 40-32 victory.
The Foxes forced turnovers on six of Morris' first seven possessions and ran out to a 7-0 lead before Morris finally scored with 1:26 to play in the first quarter on a basket by Logan Edwards. Yorkville led 7-2 after the first quarter.
"We were missing the two 'E's' in the first half," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. "The effort and execution were not where we needed them to be."
After the first quarter, both offenses turned things up in the second. Yorkville's Christian Payne scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the second quarter, while Chatten Dryfhout had six for Morris as Yorkville extended its lead to 22-12 at halftime.
Morris (3-15, 0-6) scored the first seven points of the second half - getting a basket by Payton Voitik (2 points, 8 rebounds), a pair of free throws by Dryfhout (10 points, team-high 9 rebounds) and a three-point play by Tyler Spiezio - to pull to within 22-19. Yorkville, however, answered with an 8-0 run to move ahead 29-19. Morris closed the quarter on a 7-1 spurt to tighten the gap to 30-26 entering the fourth when Spiezio, who led Morris with 14 points, beat the buzzer with a three-pointer.
The game remained tight throughout the fourth, as Morris got to within 36-31 on a basket by Dryfhout with 1:07 remaining. Jake Polowy scored a basket and later made a free throw in the final minute to help seal the win for the Foxes.
"In the second half, our effort on defense was outstanding," Blumberg said. "That's where it needs to be from now on. Not just because we were playing Yorkville or because we were down. We have to play with that intensity from the opening tip.
"One thing we really need to do better is shoot free throws. We were less then 50 percent from the line tonight and you aren't going to beat teams by doing that. We also needed to rebound better on their missed free throws. We let them have too many offensive rebounds on free throws."
Morris was 5 of 11 from the free throw line on the night, while Yorkville was 18 of 28. Payne was 12 of 15 from the line and scored all of his points in the second half on free throws.