MORRIS – The Morris boys basketball team started out in fine fashion Wednesday at the 29th Annual Morris Boys Shootout, defeating East Aurora, 49-45. A tough Rockford Auburn team was next in pool play for the Redskins, and Auburn showed why it was a Class 4A supersectional qualifier last season, dumping Morris, 70-30. Morris then took on Morton in its final game of the day.
Despite a 49-47 loss to the Potters, Morris will be in the championship bracket today, taking Morton’s spot.
“Morton has some of their kids with a baseball committment in the late afternoon tomorrow [Thursday],” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “They wanted to play in the morning. The decision that impacted the fewest teams was for us to just play in their spot in the afternoon.”
Had a shot or two fallen when they didn’t against Morton, that decision would have been a moot point, anyway, so the difference for whomever goes up against the Redskins will be negligible at best. Morris begins play at 2 p.m. today against Normal Community in the main gym.
Morris and Morton were very much on the same level athletically, and the game was of the back-and-forth variety all the way through. Senior Austin Patterson connected on three 3-pointers, finishing with 11 points, Morris took a 19-17 lead into halftime. Morris closed the half on a 6-0 run after Morton took a 17-13 lead. Junior Matt Walker hit back-to-back baskets to tie the game, then Griffin Sobol scored with 2:15 left to put the Redskins ahead, 19-17.
Morton tied it to start the second half, but Patterson hit a 3-pointer to put Morris ahead 22-19. Back-to-back buckets by Morton gave the Potters a 23-22 lead before Evan Bjelland drained a 3-pointer to give Morris a 25-23 advantage. The teams exchanged leads for the next five minutes until Matt Walker hit a 3-pointer, giving Morris a 33-31 lead, then Patterson, who finished with 19 points, scored on a drive to make it 35-31. Morton answered by going on a 12-3 run to make it, 43-38 with 3:00 to play. Bjelland hit a 3-pointer to make it, 43-41, but Morton scored again to make it, 45-41. Sobol scored for Morris with 1:16 left, pulling the Redskins to within, 45-43. A 3-point play by Bjelland made it, 49-47 with 17 seconds left, and Morris was able to get the ball back, but a late 3-pointer missed the mark.
“This was the first time we have been together as a full team all summer,” Blumberg said. “As a result, we had some moments when we didn’t play well as a team. We took some shots that were a little selfish, and that’s something we need to work on.
“For the most part, we competed well. Our second game, against Rockford Auburn, was not a good game for us. Although, Jordan Miracle did play very well for us in that game. He showed us something. We have a tough road Thursday, but being able to get minutes together is what this team needs.”