MORRIS – Austin Patterson was hot.
And his teammates got him the ball.
It was a fairly simple formula, but the Morris boys basketball team followed it to near perfection Saturday night in a 65-56 win over Sycamore. The victory puts Morris in first place in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East with a 7-1 league mark, while Sycamore falls to 6-2 in conference play.
Patterson scored 29 of his game-high 30 points in the first three quarters, helping Morris build a 52-30 lead at one point in the third.
“We played well together,” Patterson, a 6-foot-4 junior, said. “The set we run, we ran very effectively and we found the open guy. We really wanted to get this win on our home floor.”
Morris shot 10-of-22 from the floor in the first half, including 6-of-13 from 3-point range. In addition, the Redskins committed just three turnovers before halftime in building a 36-28 lead.
“When we shoot well, execute our sets and take care of the ball, we can be very good,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “The 22-point lead was a blessing and a curse. Sycamore is too good not to make a run, and we relaxed a bit on both ends when we got that big lead.”
Though Morris opened a big advantage, Sycamore didn’t go away. The Spartans outscored Morris 19-4 after falling behind by 22 and pulled to within 61-56 with a minute to play. Brock Kukman, who scored 15 points for Morris, hit both ends of a one-and-one twice down the stretch to keep Sycamore at bay.
“We like our seniors on the floor at the end. Brock did a great job,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “He’s got ice in his veins.
“In past years, we have been scoreboard watching and cheerleading when it came to the conference race. Now, we control our own fate. It won’t be easy the rest of the way. We still have Kaneland coming here and we have to go Sycamore on their Senior Night.”
After trailing 16-12 at the end of the first quarter, Morris outscored Sycamore 24-12 in the second.
“We knew we were going to have to win this game with defense,” Patterson said. “We played real good defense on them early and got the lead. It feels good to be leading the conference.”
Devin Mottet scored all 13 of Sycamore’s points in the third quarter and finished with a team-leading 28 points. Ben Niemann added 20 points.
“Morris took it to us the first two and a half quarters,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “We did a nice job of responding, but for whatever reason, we weren’t ready to play at the start. I take the blame for that.
“But, when you are down 20 to a team that can execute as well as Morris does, it’s hard to come back.”