Sunday, November 25, 2018

Richwoods gets double-overtime win in "heavyweight bout" against Morton

Morton's Katie Krupa and Richwoods' Camryn Taylor go for the opening tip at the PotterDome on Saturday afternoon.
Morton, Ill. - As Richwoods head coach Todd Hursey will tell you, a game like Morton-Richwoods doesn't need much of a pep talk to the players. They know. Roughly 2,000 people packed the gym at Dunlap High School back in February when these two teams met as the #1 and #2-ranked teams in Class 3A. On top of that, the last time that a school other than Morton or Richwoods won the 3A Girls Basketball State Title was the 2013-2014 season, when Lombard Montini beat Joliet Catholic.

All that being said, there was a basketball game that needed to be played.

Especially early on, the teams traded baskets. Tenley Dowell and Nia Williams both made the most of their opportunities, pacing both of their respective teams in scoring for the opening quarter. The Knights and Potters combined for seven attempted free throws in the first. After Dowell's 10-point quarter and Williams' nine-point quarter, the teams were all tied up at 15 apiece.

Neither team let up in the second. Then again, as hinted at by Coach Hursey, it didn't seem like the girls were planning on it, anyway. The only statistical difference between the first two quarters is that there was only one free throw from either side.

Dowell had another quality quarter for the Potters, scoring six of her game-high 21 points. The other two Potters that got into the scoring column combined for eight. The Knights balanced their scoring just as well. As the back and forth continued, the host Potters held a four-point lead at the break.

The third quarter may have just been the breaking point, but only in hindsight. For those that were at the PotterDome to witness the game in person, it still seemed like the "heavyweight bout" that the coaches say it was. A single digit-scoring quarter by Morton was not helped by Richwoods doubling that. Dowell, Lindsey Dullard, and Katie Krupa made a two, but that was all.

Richwoods became a valued customer at the free throw line, making five third quarter free throws, the most among either team in any of the eventual six periods of the game. Camryn Taylor, who had only made one field goal to that point, made all but one of her attempts in the third. Taylor is headed to the Marquette Golden Eagles next season.

Intensity beamed just as brightly as it did at tipoff as the game wound down, or so some thought. Perhaps there were some that wanted free basketball, considering the quality of the two teams that were on the floor.

It started to get physical, more so than it had already. Any time it seemed that a game winning shot had been made, an answer followed.

Four quarters. 51-all. One overtime, six points apiece, still tied, now at 57-57.

Then came the second and what turned out to be the final overtime. Richwoods came out with a newfound energy, not that it was lacking at all in the first place. Taylor played a key role in the closing minutes in numerous facets of the game.

Whether it be one block or one hustle play that gave the Knights the ball, Taylor was giving it the absolute best effort, knowing that a simple miscue could wind up costing them the game, especially considering how things had played out thus far.

Morton needed a couple of free throws to stay in it with just seconds remaining, but they were missed. Richwoods would bring in the rebound and run out the clock.

After 40 minutes of play, the visiting Knights would come away with the win and take the title in the 10th Annual Morton Thanksgiving Tournament, 64-61.

They Said It | Richwoods HC Todd Hursey:
On how the game played from start to finish
- "I think when it comes down to Richwoods-Morton right now, you don't have to do much to coach them for that intensity. They know what's going to happen. They know it's going to be a heavyweight bout. It's going to be blow after blow, back and forth. We have to overcome some of our adversities that are brought to us. They're (Morton) going to do the same thing. I think you got two very talented teams that have great respect for each other."
On key early-season match-up helping down the road
- "Absolutely. That's why we're here. They are a top-notch program, and to play in their gym against them, win or lose, it gets you ready for the rest of the season. That's why we love coming to this tournament."
On dealing with the game's intensity in the overtimes
- "All we have to do is coach them with the x's and o's. Make sure that people are covering where they need to cover."

They Said It | Morton HC Bob Becker:
On high intensity level over the course of the game
- "You never know what's going to happen. Our kids used that (sectional loss vs. Richwoods). I thought we showed up a lot more confident team. The fans were treated to what you would consider a classic. It lived up to its billing. At this point of the season, the loss stings, but we're going to choose to learn from this loss, and be better tomorrow than we were today."
On doubleheader on Friday
- "Our two programs know each other very well. I think both teams can grow and embrace that challenge. We got to play the best to take that next step forward."
On key early-season match-up helping down the road
- "Yeah, we know we can compete with them. We had our opportunities, we just fell a little bit short. They battled until the end."

Morton Scoring: 
Tenley Dowell (21), Lindsey Dullard (15), Maddy Becker (12), Katie Krupa (6), Courtney Jones (5), Megan Gold (2)

Richwoods Scoring:
Nia Williams (19), Camryn Taylor (18), Jaida McCloud (15), Tianna Johnson (10), Natalie DesJardins (2)

Morton Team Stats:
15 2's, 7 3's, 10-14 FTs, 16 fouls

Richwoods Team Stats:
23 2's, 2 3's, 12-21 FTs, 18 fouls

Morton Individual Leaders:
2's | Tenley Dowell (7)
3's | Maddy Becker (4)
FTs | Katie Krupa (4-4)

Richwoods Individual Leaders:
2's | Jaida McCloud (4)
3's | Nia Williams (0)
FTs | Camryn Taylor (6-8)

Next Morton Game:
Friday, November 30th
vs. Canton Lady Giants
7:00 pm

Next Richwoods Game:
Thursday, November 29th
vs. Peoria Manual
7:00 pm

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