Morris girls hope to stay above .500 at Ottawa

For the first time since 2010, the Morris varsity girls basketball team will take a winning record into the Ottawa Christmas Tournament, which begins Friday.

A 68-62 loss Saturday night at Yorkville dropped Morris to 5-4, which is the record it will take into its first game at Ottawa. Morris and Lincoln-Way West will play in the tournament’s opener at 3 p.m. Friday.

First-year Morris coach Kate Carey thinks the Redskins could have done even better during their pre-tournament schedule.

“The only two losses I’m really accepting of are the one to Prairie Central and the Yorkville loss,” Carey said. “We played really hard against Yorkville. It was the hardest they’ve played yet. Good things will happen if we keep that up. There were some disappointing losses in there, specifically the Rochelle game and the Peoria game. If we clean those kinds of losses up, we’re really sitting well.”

In addition to Lincoln-Way West, Morris shares a pool at Ottawa with LaSalle-Peru, which it will face Saturday morning.

“They’ve gotten off to a real good start, and we’ve got our work cut out for us Friday,” Carey said of Lincoln-Way West. “Against [L-P], I expect it to be a battle like every game, but we’ve got a real good chance to take that one. It’s always a little bit easier going against another [Northern Illinois Big 12] conference team, even though they’re on the other side. You can get a little more intel on a team like that.”

Morris is guaranteed two games Monday, with its times and opponents yet to be determined. Should the Redskins win their pool, they will play the first game at 12:30 p.m. Monday; otherwise they will play first at 9:45 a.m.

“We want to be in the No. 1 or No. 2 bracket. We don’t wanna be in the third-place bracket,” Carey said, “and if we do end up in that third-place bracket, we definitely want to win that bracket.”

The second game at the tournament Monday will be the final time Morris plays during the calendar year. It will return to Ottawa to play the Lady Pirates in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover game in its return from break on Jan. 3.

To keep its record above .500 entering 2014, Morris must win at least twice at Ottawa.

“The pattern of our wins and losses has been such that we’ve stayed at or above .500,” Carey said. “That’s been big for keeping up our morale.”