SANDWICH — The Morris boys basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better way to open Tuesday night’s Class 3A Sandwich Regional game against Plano.
The Redskins were awarded a technical foul for a Plano rules infraction during warm-ups. Thus, Morris started the game with two free throws, which Jacob Overbeck made, and possession of the ball.
Morris used its good fortune to build an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and took a 23-20 lead into halftime before Plano’s defense stiffened in the second half and the Reapers were able to end the Redskins’ season with a 58-44 decision. Morris finishes with a 10-19 record.
“In the first quarter, we were able to control the pace and flow of the game,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “Then, Plano switched to a 2-3 zone, and we had trouble adjusting to it. We shot two free throws, which were before the game started, and we never got to the line after that.
“When you are facing a team with the length and athleticism such as Plano has, it can be tough to get to the free throw line.”
After Overbeck's two free throws, Plano scored the first basket of the game, a three-pointer by Griffin Cross, before Logan Edwards scored on a putback bucket for the Redskins. Back-to-back baskets by Damond Williams gave Plano a 7-4 lead, but Chatten Dryfhout hit the first of his three first-quarter three-pointers to tie the game. Williams scored again on a drive, but Dryfhout countered with a three-pointer for a 10-9 Morris lead. After Cross scored on a putback, Dryfhout scored on a drive and Jack Walker hit a three-pointer, giving Morris a 15-11 lead. Cedric Walton scored on a putback for Plano, but Dryfhout drained another trey with :50 remaining to give Morris its 18-13 lead.
Plano's defense showed signs of things to come, holding Morris scoreless for the first 5:30 of the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Reapers scored six unanswered points to take a 19-18 lead before Dryfhout, who led all scorers with 18 points, scored on a putback to put the Redskins back ahead, 20-19. Ka'Jon Smith hit a free throw for Plano to tie it with 1:52 to play until halftime, but Dryfhout answered with his fourth three-pointer of the half to gaive Morris a 23-20 lead, which it took into intermission.
"Chatten's shooting from three-point range definitely gave us a spark in the first half," Blumberg said. "I also thought, in the first half, that we held our own on the boards against a much bigger club. But, we weren't able to sustain that for 32 minutes."
Plano opened the second half with a 7-0 spurt to take a 27-23 lead before Walker (9 points) made a three-pointer to make it 27-26 with 4:45 to play. After a basket by Williams, Colin Cimmings tied it at 29 with a three-pointer of his own at the 2:15 mark before Cross scored back-to-back baskets to give the Reapers a 33-29 advantage. Overbeck (10 points) hit a three-pointer to get Morris to within 33-32, but Williams converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 8.0 seconds left to give Plano a 36-32 lead heading into the fourth.
Overbeck made a three-pointer early in the fourth to pull Morris to within 36-35, but Plano scored the next 11 points to take control, 47-35, with 3:00 to play. The closest Morris came after that was when a Walker three made it 53-44 with :45 to go.
"I thought the game was closer than the final score indicates," Blumberg said. "I thought at times this season that our four seniors [Dryfhout, Overbeck, Lain and Edwards] exceeded expectations, especially with a few big wins in January. After that, no teams were taking us lightly and we drew more attention and teams scouted us harder.
"The great thing about our seniors is that they will all be starting their next sport tomorrow [Wednesday]. We need more athletes like that."