NORMAL — Gold, gold, gold and now, more gold.
Morton led wire-to-wire to capture the Class 3A state championship with a 35-21 victory over Glen Ellyn Glenbard South on Saturday afternoon at Redbird Arena. The No. 3 Potters cap a 33-3 season by winning their fourth girls basketball state title in five seasons.
A more relaxed Morton squad took Doug Collins Court and quickly gave a large Potters contingent a reason to cheer.
“We came out and set the tone and the tempo and just went from there," Morton senior Tenley Dowell said. "We really wanted it this year. We knew we had a chance, and we could to get it.”
Five Potters helped build a 15-0 lead and they never look back. Two Katie Krupa free throws began a 4-minute, 10-second stretch during which Glenbard South went 0-for-4 from the field with six turnovers. Dowell scored four, while Lindsey Dullard knocked down a 3-pointer and Raquel Frakes had a rebound putback.
Courtney Jones capped the incredible Morton start with a drive before Raquel LaPonte put an end to the Raiders scoring woes with a 3-pointer at the 1:31 mark of the opening quarter.
Another eight-point burst from Morton extended its lead to 23-3 thanks to a Dullard lay-in. By the time Glenbard South scored again, they had shot just 1-for-12 from the field and committed 10 turnovers.
“We were definitely scared,” Glenbard senior Maggie Bair said. “I think we were just intimidated. We knew they’ve got a big starting lineup … we should have come out with a lot more confidence.”
Bair was playing with three fouls and limited to only two first-half touches. Bair finished with six points and five rebounds — 10 points and eight rebounds below her averages.
A big part of the 6-foot-3 all-stater’s lack of production was being swarmed all game by Dullard and Krupa. The pair took turns bodying up to the Drake recruit.
“She’s an incredible player,” Krupa said. “We had to shut her down. I had to draw fouls on her. That’s something we had to do in order to win. That’s what we did. Lindsey played insane defense against (Bair).”
Added Dullard, “I walked into shootaround today and coach (Bob Becker) was like, ‘You’re guarding (Bair).’ I was like, ‘Ok. I’m up for the challenge.’”
Krupa, on the other hand, shined on the offensive end. The 6-foot-1 freshmen scored 10 points to go with three rebounds, three steals and a block. She capped an impressive postseason run as a first-year starter.
“That was a little bit of a struggle the beginning of the season, but I knew this postseason was going to be big,” Krupa said of her offensive game. “I had to play consistent if we wanted to get this far.”
Despite starting the second half leading 24-5, Morton had its own offensive struggles.
Unranked Glenbard South, which finished third last season, scored the third quarter’s first nine points. The Potters scored on a pair of Krupa free throws but were without a field goal — 0-for-6 — for the entire eight minutes following halftime.
“(Glenbard South) kind of established their style of play,” Becker said. “I would consider that team is playing with a chip on their shoulder, something to prove. We told our kids, ‘Don’t relax.’ There’s nothing less important than the score at half.”
In fact, Morton went 12:54 between made baskets — a Dowell drive ended the field goal drought at the 5:26 mark of the fourth quarter.
That wasn’t a problem for the Potters, who still maintained a double-digit lead. But back-to-back baskets from Alex Wilharm made it 31-21 with 2:26 left in the game.
A Peyton Dearing drive followed by Dowell capping her incredible career with two free throws set the final score.
Dowell, a Butler recruit who finished her four-year prep campaign with three state titles, scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and had three steals and two assists
“She had her best season yet this year,” Becker said.
Morton used its long and athletic defense to force 15 turnovers, 13 of which were steals. The Potters shot only 35.5 percent (11-for-31), but won the rebounding battle, 24-18.
Glenbard South’s 21 points were its lowest output of the season, one less a 22-point effort on Dec. 5.
HOMECOMING: The Morton girls basketball team will have a police and fire escort through town at 10:45 a.m. Sunday beginning at the Farm 'n' Fleet in Morton. A reception in the high school's west gym is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Adam Duvall can be reached at 686-3214 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.