The first time was no fluke.

Canton swept the Mid-Illini Conference girls basketball series from Morton on Feb. 10 with a 57-44 home win.

The first time was no fluke.

Canton swept the Mid-Illini Conference girls basketball series from Morton on Feb. 10 with a 57-44 home win.

The Lady Giants stopped the Potters’ 12-game winning streak by scoring 39 second-half points in Alice Ingersoll Gymnasium.

Canton derailed Morton 49-40 on Jan. 6 while top scorer Chandler Ryan was sidelined with an injury.

This time, even with Ryan on the floor, the Lady Giants prevailed again to lock up third place in the league, the squad’s best finish since the 2008-09 season.

Cloe Churchill led a balanced Canton offensive attack with 15 points, sharing game-high honors with the Potters’ Brandi Bisping.

Ryan added 13 points for the visitors and Jadison Wharram 10 in Morton’s first defeat in five weeks.

MHS 42, Washington 29
The Potters emerged on top Friday in a winner-take-all scenario.

Morton (26-3, 12-2) earned its seventh conference championship in the last 11 years by holding last year’s champ, Washington (24-3, 11-3), to a season-low 29 points.

“I loved the effort tonight,” MHS head coach Bob Becker said. “I’m proud of them.”

Bisping and Ryan both had 13 points to lead the host Potters on their Senior Night. The former snagged seven rebounds.

“We just buckled down and made sure to stop them,” said Morton guard Emma Heisler. “We knew defense was going to win the game tonight.”

Caldwell and Tia Sherman shared Lady Panthers team-high scoring honors with six apiece.

Morton was ranked No. 8 and Washington tied for sixth in the Feb. 11 Associated Press Class 3A state poll.

The Potters also won the first meeting between the teams one month earlier 45-39 in Washington.

Morton lost a share of the M-I crown last year in the regular-season finale on its home floor with a stunning setback to East Peoria.

There would not be a second such occurrence.

After generating 12 first-half points at Torry Gymnasium, the Lady Panthers mustered just 10 this time on the road.

“I thought we got a lot of good looks in the first half, we didn’t knock ’em down,” said Washington head coach Maggie Mose.

Washington led when Kara Caldwell canned a 3 for the game’s first points, but trailed the rest of the way after an 8-0 Morton spurt that included five Bisping points.

The Potters blanked the Lady Panthers for the first 5 minutes, 42 seconds of the second quarter, with scoring from four different players, to push ahead 17-5.

But a Kassy Caldwell triple and Learned basket created a 17-10 separation at halftime.

A 10-2 spree to end the third period allowed Morton to take its biggest lead at 29-16.

Caylie Jones had two pivotal buckets in the segment as part of a 3-for-4 effort from the floor.

“She played with such confidence,” said Becker of the freshman reserve forward.

Particularly damaging was a 3 with 32 seconds left when Ryan got open from the top of the key.

“That one’s definitely frustrating as a coach,” said Mose of the Potter who is a focal point of the scouting report. “We just lost her.”

Said Ryan, “Right there, I knew we had it in hand. The defense was phenomenal tonight.”

Threes by Jess Learned and Lauren Ely got Washington within nine points, but the guests got no closer.

Morton converted 8-of-10 free throws over the last 2:43, including four straight by Ryan.

The Potters were 16-for-22 at the charity stripe, committed fewer turnovers and their defense allowed just 30-percent shooting (12-for-40).

“The way we did it was very effective tonight,” said Becker.

Washington leader Learned had only five points, missing nine of her 11 field-goal attempts.

Ryan said regular switching of who was guarding Learned was a factor. Becker pointed to the objective of not losing track of her.

Kathleen Saunders and Heisler were the senior honorees. A pregame video tribute was among the highlights.

The crowd supporting both sides arguably was as big as the Potterdome has seen for a girls game.

Postseason: No. 1 seed Morton faces either Pontiac or East Peoria at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals of the 3A Morton Regional.

No. 2 seed Washington takes on either Prairie Central or Metamora in the second semifinal of the night.

The two winners meet at 7 p.m. Friday for the regional title.

“Postseason is the best time of year. You get to show everybody what type of team you are,” Bisping said.

The Potters are seeking their ninth regional crown in the last 11 seasons.

They have been careful to not look ahead to a potential round three with Washington, knowing the finicky nature of the postseason.

The Morton Regional champion advances to the LaSalle Sectional semifinals to square off against the Streator Regional winner at 6 p.m. Monday.