MORRIS – On the night that the 2018 class of the Morris Community High School Hall of Distinction was introduced, the Morris boys basketball team nearly distinguished itself in the form of its first home win of the season.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, the first win on their home floor will have to come at a later date as LaSalle-Peru escaped with a 57-55 Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover win Saturday.
But for a four-minute stretch in the first quarter, Morris would have outscored LaSalle-Peru, 55-45. However, the Cavaliers broke a 5-all tie early in the first by going on a 12-0 run to make it 17-5 and force the Redskins (3-16, 0-7) to be in comeback mode the rest of the night.
“The slow starts are head-scratchers,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “We aren’t good enough to dig the big holes we have been digging for ourselves. We need to have more energy right at the start. It seemed like they [LaSalle-Peru] got every loose ball or rebound at key times.”
The Redksins took a 3-2 lead early when Tyler Spiezio, who led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds, scored on a putback basket and was fouled. He made the free throw to complete the three-point play. After L-P’s John Senica made a three-pointer, Spiezio scored off an assist from Payton Voitik to tie the game at 5.
That was when the Cavaliers went on their 12-0 run. It started with a pair of baskets by Tyler Martyn, who finished with a game-high 29 points, before Joel Pantoja hit back-to-back three-pointers. Martyn completed the run with a steal and a layup.
Kameron Dransfeldt, who had
10 points, ended the Morris drought with a driving basket at the 2:13 mark of the first quarter and the Redskins got a three-pointer from Chatten Dryfhout at the buzzer to trim the lead to 17-10 at the end of the first.
Morris closed to within 20-14 midway through the second quarter, but a technical foul resulted in five unanswered points for LaSalle-Peru as Martyn converted a three-point play and made both technical free throws. Morris was able to get a turnover on the resulting possession, and Dryfhout was fouled and hit a pair of free throws before Spiezio scored on a short jumper to pull Morris to within 25-18. Martyn, who was 13 of 15 from the line on the night, made a pair of free throws to put LaSalle-Peru ahead, 27-18, with 1:59 to play in the first half, but Morris got a basket from Logan Edwards and a three-pointer from Spiezio to make it 27-23 at intermission.
Neither team could get much going offensively in the third quarter, as the Cavaliers outscored the Redskins, 9-6, to atke a 36-29 lead into the fourth.
Morris then increased its defensive pressure and was able to chip away at the lead, finally pulling to within 49-47 on a 3-pointer by Dryfhout (13 points, five rebounds) with 1:04 to play. L-P got a pair of free throws by Martyn and a basket by Cole Lynch to take a 53-47 lead before Dryfhout hit a pair of free throws with 38.4 seconds left. Three more Cavalier free throws made it 56-49 and Jack Walker made a 3-pointer for Morris to make it 56-52 with 12 seconds left. Martyn made a free throw for a 57-52 lead before Voitik (5 points) hit a 3-pointer to close the scoring.
“They did a good job on Tyler tonight and we didn’t get a lot of scoring other than him until the fourth quarter,” Blumberg said. “Chatten Dryfhout continues to be a bright spot for us defensively. Every game he gets the toughest assignment, and he craves that challenge.”