MORRIS – Morris boys basketball coach Joe Blumberg knew that his team would face challenges during the 33rd annual Morris Boys Shootout.
The field was one of the strongest from top to bottom in his 12 years as tournament director, and the Redskins are a young team still trying to figure out how to work together.
The results on the scoreboard weren't the best for Morris, as it finished 0-5 during the two-day event, but Blumberg was pleased with the progress that he saw from his young team.
The Redskins began play Wednesday with a 43-23 loss to Lockport, then were able to play much closer games the rest of the day, falling to O'Fallon by a 31-27 score and Neuqua Valley by a final of 38-32.
They began Thursday with a 77-31 loss to Galesburg in the White Tournament, which was for teams that finished fourth in their four-team pools Wednesday. Galesburg had been in a pool with Joliet West, Kankakee and Loyola Academy. The Streaks lost, 48-42, to Joliet West, 60-47, to Kankakee and, 57-54, to Loyola in double overtime.
"Galesburg was not your typical No. 4 seed," Blumberg said. "They are a very good team that had some tough luck with their draw in the pool."
The Galesburg game was tied at 2 and 5 early before a 10-point run by Galesburg made it 15-5. The Redskins got within 22-11 on a putback basket by Chatten Dryfhout before Galesburg scored the next 15 points to pull away. Zach Reddinger made a pair of baskets late in the first half to make the halftime score 42-15.
Early in the second half, a 10-3 Morris spurt – with two baskets by Barry Amiano and one each by Dryfhout, Jacob Overbeck and Ryan Lain – got the score to 47-25. A Reddinger bucket made it 49-27, but Galesburg then scored the next 16 points to take a 65-27 lead. The final Morris points were scored by Lain and Logan Edwards.
Morris then finished the day with a 34-21 loss to Washington. The Redskins were tied with Washington at 16 with three minutes to play in the first half, but Washington scored a pair of baskets late in the half and opened the second half on a 5-0 run to sieze control.
"We are still struggling to score the ball," Blumberg said. "We are trying to push the ball up the floor a little more, but it's hard to do that when our guys have no legs. Most of our guys are in other sports, too, and when they come to practice, they are tired. But, the concepts are there, and they are learning them well.
"Against Washington, we were able to attack the rim on the bounce pretty well. We didn't always finish, but that will come. We made a lot of progress."
Blumberg also pointed out that, along with playing other sports during the summer, his team being the host team also had a bit to do with it being out of gas.
"Besides playing five games in two days, our guys were here at the tournament working for 13-14 hours both days," he said. "It's part of hosting the tournament.
"Even with all of that going on, I did see a lot of encouraging things from our guys, and we made progress from our first game to our last."