Morton could not catch the Washington boys basketball team Friday at the Potterdome.
After sprinting to an 18-0 lead, the Panthers stayed perfect in the Mid-Illini Conference with a 63-32 victory.
Morton dropped to 1-10 in the league and remained tied for seventh place with East Peoria.
Brent Waibel had all eight of his points in the second half to lead the Potters.
The Potters had on their pregame board to start fast on put some doubt in the Panthers’ mind.
The opposite happened, as Washington, the No. 3-ranked team in the Associated Press Class 3A state poll, received 10 points from Alec Peters in the first 6 minutes, 34 seconds.
“We’re still learning,” said MHS head coach Jarrett Brown. “It’s a constant process.”
Isaac Stephens ended the Morton first-quarter drought with a bucket with 1:04 left.
Jared Liddle’s field goal at 0:06 gave the Potters a 5-2 push to end the period.
Nick Taylor had Morton’s only basket of the second quarter at the 7:06 mark.
Four straight free throws by Stephens allowed the Potters to trim the deficit to 18 points with 3:03 to go until intermission.
Stephens and Corey Dullard both tallied six points on the night.
Morton held the Panthers to one hoop in the last 5:20 of the half.
The Potters ran off seven points in a row in just 37 seconds in the third quarter to make it 40-20 and force a Washington timeout.
Jake Starkey started the spree with a bucket before a Brent Waibel steal and lay-up.
Waibel capped the run with a trey with 5:47 remaining in the period.
The Panthers, however, responded with 11 points in a row, to reestablish command.
The Potters also put together a 7-0 salvo that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
“We have to look at everything as an opportunity to do something positive, in a way that shows growth,” said Brown.
Starkey hit a 3-pointer for the final points of the third. Taylor and Dullard hit shots to open the fourth.
The rest of the Morton scoring came from a 5-of-8 free-throw result.
Washington, winners of 13 consecutive games, swept the regular-season series from the Potters.
The Panthers won this meeting in much-different fashion than the Dec. 14 matchup at Torry Gymnasium that they trailed Morton 13-11 after one quarter.
One of the challenges for the Potters as they look to make strides the rest of the year is to finish off possessions.
Normal University 45, MHS 35
The Potters could not come all the way back from a 16-4 first-quarter deficit Saturday at home.
Page 2 of 2 - Dullard was 5-of-10 from the field to guide Morton (3-20) with 11 points. He also was the team leader with four assists and four steals.
Starkey and Jared Liddle chipped in six points apiece for the Potters.
Waibel topped the hosts with eight rebounds, while Stephens added seven.
Morton is in the middle of a daunting six-game February stretch.
With Pekin (15-7), Limestone (17-8), Washington (24-1) and U-High (18-5) down, the Potters traveled to Manual (16-6) Tuesday before going to Metamora (21-3) Friday.
The Pioneers were paced by Keita Bates-Diop’s 26 points.
Postseason: Morton is a No. 5 seed in the 3A East Peoria Regional.
The Potters will face fourth-seeded East Peoria (2-19) at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the quarterfinals.
Since the two M-I foes meet on Morton’s Senior Night Feb. 22, they will play each other in consecutive games.
No. 1 seed Washington awaits the winner at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 in the semifinals.
Limestone and Manual meet in the other semifinal the same night.
The regional championship game takes place at 7:30 p.m. March 1.