Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fremd outlasts Morton in double overtime thriller at ICC

Morton head coach Bob Becker directs his team in a huddle during the second half of Saturday's non-conference game with the Palatine Fremd Vikings. Fremd won in double overtime, 65-59. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
East Peoria, Ill. - It was a highly anticipated matchup between some of the state's top teams, as the fourth-ranked team in class 4A, Palatine Fremd (25-4) would "travel" to take on 3A #3 Morton (23-3) at Illinois Central College's Lorene Ramsey Gym.

How would this one go? We'll start you off with what Lindsey Dullard had to say about last year's game at ICC, a buzzer-beating win over the Monroe (WI) Cheesemakers.

"Yeah, so last year was crazy."

If you though that game was crazy, wait until you hear what happened in this one.

The opening tip was tossed up and won by the Fremd Vikings. It took all of five seconds for Fremd to get the first basket of the game.

Freshman Katie Krupa was playing in just her second game back from injury after missing the Metamora game. It was her offensive rebound and putback to get the Potters' scoring started.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but there were a lot of threes. Morton got the ball rolling when Lindsey Dullard hit a trey roughly three minutes into the game.

Despite the back-and-forth pace of the game to this point, the last minute of the quarter saw no points scored between either side, and Morton would hold a slim 15-12 lead after the opening eight minutes.

It wasn't necessarily in terms of points scored, but it wasn't a fantastic start for Morton. That start quickly turned for fortunes to favor the Potters, as a Dullard three two minutes into the quarter forced a timeout to be called by Fremd, trying to halt the Lady Potters and their momentum, at least for the interim.

Morton would then go on a 10-2 run, capped by a left-handed layup from Krupa with contact with 4:12 to go until halftime. The run soon ended when the Vikings got a free throw to go almost 30 seconds later.

Rather than slow down the momentum, it actually got worse for Fremd, as an open pass to junior Courtney Jones got the Vikings to call yet another timeout. That put Fremd in an unfamiliar situation one might assume - needing to call almost half of the allotted timeouts before halftime.

From that point onward, the Potters seemed to have at least a moderate advantage in controlling the pace of the game. Multiple threes for the Potters on separate occasions each gave Morton a new 10-point lead.

You might think that Fremd have scouted the Potters fairly well from behind the arc, and perhaps they did. Were the Potters surprised they were getting these looks? Coach Bob Becker doesn't think so.

"I thought our kids shot it with a ton of confidence. We were lighting it up early. In my head, can we continue to shoot it at that level?"

That being said, if the threes were falling, how was Fremd doing with Morton's interior offense. Quite well, actually. Coach Becker agrees.

"They really did a good job of keeping us out of the paint, especially down the stretch. We were playing a little more east and west and a little bit tentative."

Lindsey Dullard says that the distance game wasn't necessarily a surprise, but added that they couldn't be phased by how easily at times the shots were coming.

"If they're (threes) falling, Coach just says to keep shooting. You'll make some, you'll miss some. You just got to keep confident."

It was just under two minutes until half, when a very sloppy scrum saw a lot of hustle from just about everyone on the floor, just to try and get to the ball, all of which turned out to be Morton ball.

The game was beginning to look like the Potters had a firm hold on at least the first half, pushing their lead up to as much as 35-20 with just 90 seconds on the clock.

Yet it was Fremd who hit a couple of threes late in the quarter to bring it back within double figures, eventually adding up to a 35-26 halftime lead for Morton.

Fremd head coach David Yates says it could've been a series of things that contributed to his team's first half efforts.

"Man, sitting in a bus for about three and a half hours. It was a four hour trip. We stopped to eat. I think that first half was a little bit of bus lag, and they (Morton) shot the heck out of the ball."

The third quarter did not get off to an ideal start for Fremd, who would pass it out of bounds for a turnover just 16 seconds into action.

Meanwhile, the Vikings thought they finally had an answer on the next possession down the floor when Lindsey Dullard swatted a shot out of bounds.

It was Dullard that cracked the scoring column for Morton's first second half points, and guess what? It was off of a three.

Fremd was not going away, and it became so that they happened to not go away for the rest of the game, making a 'mini run' of sorts midway through the quarter.

That's when fouls started becoming and issue for Morton with just over two minutes to go in the quarter.

To take it a step further, the game even got within ten points and all that was on the clock was a single minute.

Morton didn't get any better, turning the ball over twice and getting called for a foul at the end of the quarter to have the Lady Potters grasping onto a very slim 44-41 lead.

Raquel Frakes quickly picked up an offensive foul in the early moments of the fourth quarter, but redeemed herself on the very next Fremd possession by getting a steal.

Soon after, Tenley Dowell would convert on a three point play with 7:18 to go in the quarter. Seems good for the Lady Potters, right? Until you hear that they didn't score the rest of the quarter. It became a matter of how many points if any that Morton could prevent the Vikings from scoring.

Fremd did get a two-pointer with just about two minutes on the clock to wrap up the quarter's point totals.

It would come down to one Morton possession, at that moment anyway. A three from Courtney Jones and Maddy Becker rebound and putback both didn't go, and as a result, this matchup between the very talented Potters and Vikings would need more than 32 minutes to determine a winner, tied at 50-50.

Each team started out a bit fast, with Morton committing a turnover, then Fremd very quickly fired a deep pass that was stolen right back.

As one may anticipate in situations such as this one, there were quite a few offense for defense subs here and there for Morton.

Fremd got a key three with 2:45 to go in OT. Free throws became a big factor as well.

A timeout came in from the Vikings with 1:31 to go in the extra period, with a big possession looming. That said possession resulted in Fremd being able to run the clock down a ways, and even drew a foul from Tenley Dowell to allow free throws.

Morton was quite patient on the 'last' possession, when Dowell drove. Fremd wanted a travel or perhaps a jump ball, but rather, a foul was called, and Dowell would subsequently go 1-2 from the line, leaving her Potter squad down 56-55. Morton would have to intentionally foul on the other end.

Fremd would get a free throw to make it 57-55 with just seconds remaining. Dowell would then hustle her way down court and drew a foul on a layup. After making one of two free throws, a timeout was called by the Vikings, leaving both teams out of timeouts.

Two free throws by the Vikings made it a three-point Fremd lead with two and a half seconds to go. Hold your breath. Timeout Morton.

With Katie Krupa on the inbound play, she wound up and heaved a three-quarter court pass intended for Courtney Jones. The Fremd player assigned to Jones fell in an attempt to bat away the pass. All that had to happen was Jones needed to rush up a last-second prayer. Guess what? It was banked in. That tied it up at 59 and forced yet another overtime.

Although prompted, the Potter faithful rose to their feet as Katie Krupa and Fremd's Olivia Hill would jump for a third time in this one.

The energy certainly was in the seats, now could it translate onto the floor is another question.

Unfortunately for the Lady Potters, their offense could not find its way back from where it had been in the earlier portions of the game. In fact, not one point was scored for the Lady Potters, and Fremd would edge out Morton, 65-59, in double overtime.

Bob Becker may have put it best, in terms of losing the game.

"A loss isn't necessarily a loss if we can learn from it."

If you go back and do the math, the 15-point first quarter for Morton ended up being the only quarter in which Morton scored in double figures. Coach David Yates was pleased with how his Vikings stood tall defensively.

"We defend. You can go look at our scores. We typically only give up 30-40 points per game. Now, they're super talented. When we went into halftime, and we had given up 35, we were like 'cmon guys, we're better than this'."

Morton, turns out, made a grand total of 11 three-pointers in the game. Morton has had a promotion going on this season that when the Lady Potters make 10 threes in a home game, everyone in attendance earns free custard from Culver's. However, this is a "home" game, not a home game. Therefore, no custard.

Lindsey Dullard (21) and Tenley Dowell (17) combined for 38 of Morton's 59 points. That's something that, although the game didn't go their way, Coach Becker can appreciate how those two played on Saturday.

"I thought Lindsey was fantastic, for sure. Both of those kids are high-level performers. They competed and gave it all they got."

This game was scheduled as a test. Just in general, but also in terms of being prepared for any tough opponents as they come in postseason play. Coach Becker agrees, going on to say that there are some things they haven't been able to do as a result of some recent games, and you may not believe what they were able to practice.

"Running clock games can be fun, but that doesn't do anything. We got to practice some situations. Believe it or not, even the three by Courtney Jones - we practiced that. It's cool to see kids execute when you need to."

Dullard believes the game came at the right time.

"I think this makes us stronger. It gives us confidence to beat these tough teams or at least come close to them."

Morton will have a brief break from games until a Tuesday road trip to face the Limestone Rockets.

Morton Scoring: Lindsey Dullard (21), Tenley Dowell (17), Courtney Jones (10), Katie Krupa (6), Maddy Becker (3), Raquel Frakes (2)

Morton Team Stats: 9 2's, 11 3's, 8-16 FTs, 19 fouls, 59 points

Morton Individual Leaders:
2's | Katie Krupa (3)
3's | Lindsey Dullard (5)
FTs | Dowell / Dullard (both with 4)

Next Morton Game:
Tuesday, February 5th
@ Limestone Rockets
7:00 pm tip-off

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