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Morris takes Prarie Central with balanced attack

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:23 p.m. CST
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(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media.)
Morris senior forward Brock Kukman and junior guard Austin Patterson battle for a rebound against Fairbury Prairie Central during the 3A Regional Playoff game in Fairbury on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
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(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media.)
Morris junior guard Austin Patterson hits a shot from behind his back against Fairbury Prairie Central during the Class 3A Regional game in Fairbury on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
Caption
(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media.)
Morris junior guard Jake Walker sinks a three-pointer against Fairbury Prairie Central during the Class 3A Regional game in Fairbury on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
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(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media)
Morris junior guard Evan Bjelland sinks a fade-away basket against Fairbury Prairie Central during the Class 3A Regional game in Fairbury on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
Caption
(Craig Lincoln for Shaw Media.)
Morris senior center David Kneller drives in for two against Fairbury Prairie Central during the Class 3A Regional game in Fairbury on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

FAIRBURY – Basketball teams aspire to be figuratively on fire during postseason basketball games. Morris brought real fire into the equation as it prepared for the Class 3A postseason.

“They burned some things – old scores or something. That was their ceremony. It’s a new season,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said of his team, which had ended the regular season with four straight losses.

Whether or not the ceremony was responsible, the Redskins were back to their winning ways Tuesday. They lived up to their No. 1 seed in a semifinal at the Prairie Central Regional, defeating the fifth-seeded host 53-39. Morris had only five turnovers, and prior to the fourth quarter, the Redskins were 15-for-29 from the field.

“We found a way to regroup after those games,” Morris guard Jake Walker said. “That’s the game plan pretty much every game –take care of the ball. It’s the most important thing on the floor. Tonight we really ran through our sets really well.”

Austin Patterson quickly took what was a 13-10 Morris lead at the end of the first quarter to double digits by scoring the first eight points of the second. Patterson followed consecutive 3-pointers with a reverse layup.

Prairie Central unintentionally ended the run when Jordan Spangler’s attempt at a feed inside went in the basket for a 3-pointer. Morris then scored another seven unanswered points, with Ned Kneller sandwiching two baskets around a Walker 3. The Hawks’ only other basket of the quarter was a late Spangler layup as they went 2-for-9 from the field.

After a Cole Fairley 3 got the Hawks within 10 midway through the third quarter, two Walker 3s restored the Morris lead to the mid teens. It never dipped below 14 points again.

The Redskins’ three leading scorers on the season – Patterson, Bjelland and Walker – all contributed to the win. Bjelland led the way with 14 points, with Patterson getting 11 and Walker nine along with four assists and two steals. Kneller added 10 points off the bench, continuing his recent scoring surge.

“We executed our set plays very well and got our shooters open shots,” Blumberg said. “[Walker], [Patterson] knocked down some shots. I thought Evan attacked seams very well. Ned continues to score inside, so we’re getting some inside and outside scoring. Nice to be a little more balanced.”

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