After the Morris boys basketball team bolted out to an 11-point lead at home after the first quarter against Pontiac in a nonconference game, Indians’ guard Drew Mills made his mark.
Mills scored 16 points in the second quarter, ending the game with 25 in what turned out to be a 54-43 victory by the Redskins.
“We knocked down some 3s early to build the lead while they were trying to extend possessions,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “I think once [Pontiac] got down 11 they tried to be more aggressive and let it fly and they found a hot shooter in Mills. We did not close out on him well to be honest with you. We knew he was one of three shooters they had. He was pretty good tonight.”
Morris built the 14-3 lead in the first quarter thanks to 3-point shooting by Austin Patterson, Jake Walker and Evan Bjelland before watching Mills get the team right back in it.
“We had to stop him,” Morris senior guard Sam Allen said. “We knew that we had to stay on him even when he got away. We knew we just couldn’t leave him.”
Mills added nine points in the third quarter and then was held off the board the rest of the game after Blumberg switched up defensive assignments and put Allen on Mills.
“Coach put me on him but my teammates helped out a lot,” Allen said. “Whenever there was a screen they were calling out the switches. That was a big key in that.”
Blumberg said the move certainly paid off as the 5-foot-6 senior shut Mills down.
“I think we did much of what they did to Patterson, we put Sam on him and gave him very limited help. He was fronting Mills,” he said. “I also think a couple of Mills’ shots were short in the fourth quarter and I think maybe he wore out a little bit. But credit Sam Allen for shutting him down.”
Allen came up with one more big play in the final minutes to help seal the win. He got a critical steal on the defensive end with about a minute to go and with Morris nursing a 6-point lead (49-43).
“People may say that Patterson or Walker is our MVP, but I really think our team knows how valuable Sam is,” Blumberg said. “He’s a good all-around player. He’s our best defender and he takes care of the ball. He doesn’t turn it over and he always seems to be around the basketball.”
Morris is now 11-3 on the season. The Redskins will host DeKalb on Friday in a Northern Illinois Big 12 East tilt.