In the first eight minutes, the Morris Redskins came out swinging against conference foe Yorkville Friday night.
Within three minutes of the tip, Danny Friend’s elbow connected with Foxes’ guard Brandon Holmes’ nose, leaving him sprawled on the floor with blood pouring from his nose. With tensions for the rest of the contest, the teams battled tooth and nail for the upper hand, with Yorkville escaping with a 53-47 win on Senior Night, despite an early 16-point disadvantage.
“That elbow was just part of the game,” Holmes said after the game. “There is no way it was intentional. We were just both going for the ball, and I got hit.”
The hosts were put on their heels early, with Morris jumping out to an 11-3 lead, before Josh Williams answered back for the Foxes with a 3-pointer. Morris didn’t stop there, pushing their lead to 14-6 at the end of the first, courtesy of a Ben Ortiz three as time expired.
“In the first, we didn’t allow their full court press to set up,” Morris head coach Joe Blumberg said. “Once their pressure picked up, we made some poor decisions, and they forced us to play at a speed we obviously weren’t comfortable with.”
Despite holding the Foxes to a mere six points in the opening frame, the Morris defense was overshadowed in the second by the fact they themselves managed only seven points. Yorkville capitalized on this, relying on high tempo and increased defensive pressure to claw their way back into the game, with Cody Baily scoring on back-to-back possessions to end the half, now down only two — 21-19.
The Redskins seemed refocused following the break, stretching their lead back to six with 6:38 left in the half, following a pair of Danny Friend free throws. The two teams traded baskets for much of the quarter, capped by a dunk from Holmes following a steal, and a half court runner from Friend as the buzzer sounded, allowing Morris to head into the final quarter up 37-35.
“We’ve had trouble with pressure all year,” Friend said after the game. “We didn’t move the ball well, and with Jake (Olson) and me in early foul trouble, it hurt us a lot.”
Olson managed only one point in the contest, coming off a free throw with 3:39 left in the game. He was called for a technical foul early in the first half after arguing a call with an official, and spent a majority of the rest of the half on the bench. Both teams struggled heavily from the charity stripe, with Morris going 5 of 10 and Yorkville netting 7 of 14 attempts. This proved to cost the Redskins, as Yorkville seemed to hit them when it counted most, and never allowed Morris to get closer than three in the last four minutes.
Ortiz led all scorers with 17 points, with Jake Hogan totaling 12. The Redskins finish the regular season at 16-10.