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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Potters never trail vs. Canton

  • And then there was one.

    The Morton girls basketball team is the last one standing without a loss in the Mid-Illini Conference.
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  • And then there was one.
    The Morton girls basketball team is the last one standing without a loss in the Mid-Illini Conference.
    The Potters used a 14-0 spurt in the first quarter Dec. 18 to defeat Canton, 51-39, in a matchup of undefeated league teams.
    "I thought we were pretty dialed in," MHS head coach Bob Becker said of the stretch in which the girls held Canton scoreless for 5 minutes, 20 seconds.
    Morton (9-2, 5-0) won its seventh consecutive game in front of an enthusiastic weekday crowd at the Potterdome as three players were in double figures.
    Three days after handing Washington its first conference loss, the Potters did the same to the Lady Giants.
    "That's two teams that we've held to 39 points and I think they were two pretty good offensive teams," said Becker.
    Morton's Kate Byrne had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had six rebounds.
    "Kate Byrne really played great tonight," Becker said of the junior guard.
    The Potters held the Canton combination of Cloe Churchill and Michaela Kumer to just 22 points. The pair scored 57 one week earlier vs. East Peoria.
    Kumer, a three-sport warrior who is best in basketball, managed just six points, including zero in the second half.
    Becker credited Abbie Cox with most of the defensive work on Kumer, who shot 3-of-13. Cox also had a pair of 3-pointers to tally eight points.
    Sarah Livingston sank 6-of-7 free throws to account for 10 points. Chandler Ryan netted seven of her 10 in the second half.
    Starter Bella Jackson had a game-best eight rebounds, helping the Potters to a 35-27 advantage on the boards.
    Six Morton players grabbed at least four rebounds.
    After the teams traded baskets to begin the game, Emily Schultz had a personal four-point run.
    Ryan and Cox then canned 3s to make it 12-2 and force a Lady Giant timeout.
    The stoppage in play did little to slow down Morton, as Livingston added two free throws and Byrne a bucket at the 1:53 mark.
    The Potters took a 16-6 lead into the second quarter after Churchill, who led all scorers with 16, ended the Canton (10-2, 4-1) drought.
    Morton was up 22-10 in the second period on back-to-back hoops by Byrne and another by Cox, all in 51 seconds.
    But the Lady Giants put together their first charge on two treys by Churchill and a Kumer deuce.
    The Potters used their first timeout of the half and blanked Canton the rest of the quarter. Points by Livingston and Byrne forged a 26-18 cushion.
    Morton also won the third period by 10 points, 15-5, after holding Canton scoreless for 5 minutes, 12 seconds.
    Byrne, Ryan, Cox and Livingston all provided offense during a 10-0 spree.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Potters seemingly were going to ease into victory with a 45-28 surplus with 4:37 to go on a Livingston bucket.
    But the Lady Giants, who won three of their first four M-I games by double digits, did not go away.
    Mel Turgeon, Churchill and Natalie Martindale all drained 3s to make it 47-37 with 1:35 left.
    Savannah Rhodes, Jackson and Byrne all split free throws, while Canton failed to score in between as the margin inched up to 13 points with less than 30 seconds remaining.
    Morton again accomplished its goal of making more free throws than the other team attempts by going 15-of-22 at the line. The Lady Giants were only 2-of-4.
    The rematch with Canton is Jan. 31 at Alice Ingersoll Gymnasium.
    High-scoring freshman: Strictly from a scoring standpoint, Ryan is in select company as a ninth grader.
    Her varsity average of 13.7 points per game as a freshman compares favorably with Morton all-time players of the last decade.
    Brooke Bisping, a Bradley University senior, averaged 12.4 ppg as a freshman in 2005-06.
    Tracy Pontius, who recorded 1,399 career points at Bowling Green State University, supplied 12.3 ppg in her debut campaign in '03-04.
    Livingston, a University of Illinois signee, posted 10.4 ppg in '09-10 as a Potter freshman.
    Morton is less than halfway through its 29-game regular season.
    Holiday hoops: Morton plays for the seventh consecutive season at the State Farm Holiday Classic.
    The Potters, who are 12-12 since 2006 at the Twin Cities event in its 16th girls' edition, finished fourth in the '11 version.
    Fifth-seeded Morton faces Chicago St. Ignatius at 9 p.m. Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
    The Potters will play three more times in the tournament, which concludes Saturday with the third place and championship contests.

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