Girls basketball: Morris, Minooka, Joliet Central enjoy success at Morris Ladies Shootout

First-year Morris girls basketball coach Mike Lutz and his team reached the semifinals at the 2024 Morris Ladies Shootout.

MORRIS – Two Herald-News area girls basketball teams with new coaches each had a terrific run at the Morris Ladies Shootout on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Morris, coached by former Joliet Central assistant boys coach Mike Lutz, and Minooka, coached by former Joliet West head girls coach John Placher, reached the semifinals of the 21-team event. Morris was beaten in the semifinals by Kankakee, and Minooka fell to Pleasant Plains in the other semifinal.

Overall, however, both coaches felt their teams took positive steps.

“We are still trying to figure out our identity,” Lutz said. “We have made some big strides this summer. We went 14-2 this summer. I’ll definitely take that. And we were playing without one of our starters in this shootout.”

Morris started Tuesday’s pool play with a 29-21 win over La Salle-Peru, then beat Plainfield North 30-21 and Bloomington Central Catholic 25-24 before dropping a 25-21 decision to Pleasant Plains. In Wednesday’s bracket play, Morris beat Andrew and Joliet Central before falling to Kankakee 37-35 in the semifinals after trailing 30-9 at halftime.

Minooka, meanwhile, went 2-1 in pool play Tuesday, beating Wilmington 46-19 and Plainfield South 59-45 and losing a 45-40 decision to Ottawa. The Indians got the top seed out of their pool because of point differential and beat Metamora and Rock Island Alleman in the championship bracket Wednesday before losing to Pleasant Plains.

“There’s a nice group of core kids coming back from last year’s team,” Placher said. “And we have some good JV players coming up.

“This is my first year with them, so this summer has been pretty much us getting to know each other. We want to put everyone in the best position to succeed, and we are excited about being able to do that. We feel like we have the ingredients to be successful. We also had a great youth camp with some really good numbers, and that can only help the program as well.”

First-year Minooka coach John Placher talks to his team during the 2024 Morris Ladies Shootout.

Joliet Central went 3-0 in pool play Tuesday, beating Hinsdale South 34-32, Coal City 31-23 and Kankakee 38-36 before falling to Morris in the opening round of bracket play Wednesday, which was shortened because of the heat.

“We have had a great summer,” Joliet Central coach Laura Brumfiel said. “We have good numbers in the program, and we had a really fun youth camp.

“We have a few key players returning this year, and they are still young. The more they play, the better they will get. We went 3-0 on our first day here, and you can’t do better than that.”

Ottawa finished in fourth place after losing the third-place game to Plainfield North 34-30. On Tuesday, the Pirates lost to Plainfield South 60-46 and Minooka 45-40 before beating Wilmington 43-33. They then beat Kaneland in the bracket semifinals before falling to Plainfield North in the final.

“We’ve had a good summer,” Ottawa coach Brent Moore said. “We have been very busy. We host our own league on Mondays and Wednesdays at Kingman Gym with about 7-8 local teams and we’ve been to shootouts at Illinois Wesleyan and Lewis before coming to this one.

“We also went to a Chicago Sky game and got to play on their floor against Geneseo before watching the Sky play. That was a great team-bonding experience.”

Moore also said standout Marlie Olandi will return to the team soon.

“She is set to be cleared to play by her doctor on June 27,” Moore said. “We host a summer jam on the 28th, but we aren’t sure how much Marlie will play. She will be more than ready to go by the time the season starts, though.”

Tuesday’s pool play scores

Minooka 46, Wilmington 19; Plainfield South 60, Ottawa 46; Ottawa 45, Minooka 40; Plainfield South 56, Wilmington 30; Minooka 59, Plainfield South 45; Ottawa 43, Wilmington 33; Kankakee 34, Coal City 16; Joliet Central 34, Hinsdale South 32; Joliet Central 31, Coal City 23; Kankakee 38, Hinsdale South 28; Joliet Central 38, Kankakee 36; Hinsdale South 44, Coal City 29; Metamora 41, Wheaton St. Francis 37; Rock Island Alleman 61, Oswego 37; St. Francis 58, Oswego 54; Alleman 49, Metamora 47; Alleman 62, St. Francis 44; Metamora 61, Oswego 44; Andrew 36, Kaneland 34; Downers Grove South 40, Plainfield Central 29; Downers Grove South 48, Andrew 37; Kaneland 35, Plainfield Central 33; Downers Grove South 45, Kaneland 31; Andrew 59, Plainfield Central 28; Morris 29, La Salle-Peru 21; Bloomington Central Catholic 27, Pleasant Plains 16; Morris 30, Plainfield North 21; Pleasant Plains 34, Bloomington CC 30; Morris 25, Bloomington CC 24; Pleasant Plains 35, La Salle-Peru 22; Pleasant Plains 25, Morris 21; Plainfield North 41, La Salle-Peru 19; Bloomington CC 48, La Salle-Peru 29.