BRAIDWOOD — Defense was the name of the game Tuesday night when the Morris girls basketball team squared off with the host school in the Reed-Custer Lady Comet Classic.
After Morris held Reed-Custer to just two points in the second quarter to help them to a 17-8 halftime lead, Reed-Custer responded by limiting Morris (1-1) to a scant six points in the second half and came away with the 24-23 victory.
The game was tied 6-6 after one quarter, as Maddy Shannon had four of Morris’ points and Addison Stacy had two. Reed-Custer got baskets from Brooklyn Harding, Laci Newbrough and Adrianna Williams in the first to provide the Lady Comets’ scoring. Both teams had all of their points before the mask break midway through the quarter.
Morris opened the second quarter by scoring 11 straight points, including five by Makenna Boyle, four by Alexxis McKerrow and two by Sophie Hipes. Morris made 7 of 10 free throws in the period. Meanwhile, Reed-Custer did not score until Harding made a drive to the basket for a bucket with :05 left until halftime.
“Our defense was pretty good for most of the night,” Morris coach Luke Windy said. “Reed-Custer missed some shots in the second quarter, but we did a good job defensively, too.”
Morris did not make a field goal in the third quarter, and got just a free throw by Shannon. Meanwhile, Reed-Custer got five points, including the game’s only three-pointer, from Harding and five more from Emily Lochner, to tie the game at 18 entering the fourth quarter.
Reed-Custer (2-0) then took its first lead since they led 2-0 when Newbrough scored a basket at the 6:34 mark of the fourth. Morris got another free throw by Shannon and then took a 21-20 lead on a basket by Stacy with 4:22 remaining. After the mask break with 3:19 left, Stacy scored again to give Morris a 23-20 lead.
Reed-Custer answered with a basket by Mya Beard to pull to within 23-22 with 2:08 remaining, and scored the final points of the game with :55 left on a basket by Newbrough.
The scoring might have been finished, but the excitement wasn’t. Reed-Custer’s Harding went to the line to shoot 1-and-1 with 33.5 seconds left. She made the first free throw, but the Lady Comets were called for a lane violation and the ball went to Morris.
Reed-Custer only had three team fouls at that point, and the Lady Comets did not let Morris get into an offensive rhythm, fouling Morris three times. Morris finally got a shot off, but it missed. The ball went out of bounds off of Reed-Custer, and Morris had the ball out of bounds under the basket with 1.5 seconds left. However, Morris could not score, and the game ended.
“We knew coming into the season that we would have stretches where we would struggle scoring,” Windy said. “We didn’t have a basket in the third quarter. The shots just weren’t falling.
“Then, we kind of got out of our offense and stopped attacking the basket. We shot 9 of 13 from the free throw line, so attacking the basket and shooting free throws was good for us.
“Even so, we had the last shot and a chance to win, and that’s all you can ask for in a competitive game like this. We made some mistakes, but that’s what early-season games are for. Now, we need to learn from them and move forward.”
Shannon and Stacy led Morris with six points each, while Boyle added five and McKerrow four.
Celebration on Dec. 4
The Morris girls basketball program will honor the 1995-96 team that finished fourth in the state during halftime of the varsity game. Morris coach Luke Windy said that the celebration was planned for the 25th anniversary, but that COVID restrictions prevented it.
Also, the program would like to invite all the junior high teams from Nettle Creek, ICS, Morris Grade School, and Saratoga to be introduced after the JV game that night. Players will get free admission.