Girls’ climb continues as Nimmo soars for 25

Bryan Veginski
Lining up a jumper: Morton junior Caitlyn Vandermeer sets up before taking a shot during the second half of the Potters’ 47-36 Mid-Illini Conference girls basketball victory over Limestone Friday. The Potters were 12-15 overall entering the final week of the regular season.

In front of a large throng of pink-clad fans Friday, the Morton girls basketball team produced a nearly perfect first half.

The Potters moved closer to the upper division of the Mid-Illini Conference with a 47-36 home win over Limestone.

Morton (12-15, 6-6) won for the third straight time. The squad also is 5-2 in its last seven league tilts.

Wearing pink uniforms and warming up with a pink ball in their inaugural Cancer Awareness Game, the Potters led 33-14 at halftime.

“We played pretty good defense and our execution was good,” MHS head coach Bob Becker said.

Mariah Nimmo was scorching hot in the opening 16 minutes. She had 22 of her game-high 25 points during that segment, including 11 straight in the second quarter.

“(Mariah)’s really been shooting well for a couple weeks; she’s shooting with confidence,” said Becker.

It was 8-6 midway through the first period when Morton went on a 7-0 run.

Nimmo hit the second of her six three-pointers on the night, Livingston added a putback in transition and Erin Tisdale made a jump shot.

Karissa Neihouser’s long deuce created a 17-10 margin for the Potters at the end of the first quarter.

Morton limited the Rockets to one field goal in the first 7:20 of the second period as its bulge swelled to 33-12.

Nimmo was unstoppable, using good ball movement by her teammates to find open spots from which to shoot.

Neihouser continued to give the Potters positive minutes with a couple steals and a nice fastbreak pass to Livingston for a lay-up.

“That was her best game of the year,” Becker said of Neihouser. “She gave us a spark. She was big off the bench for us tonight.”

It took Limestone only 3:02 in the third quarter to get within 10 points. Felicia Johnson had 10 of her team-leading 15 points in a span of just more than two minutes.

But seven consecutive points by Morton restored a 17-point advantage late in the third.

Livingston supplied five of the points, including another score on an offensive rebound.

Nimmo tweaked her ankle early in the third frame, but said after the game it would not be a problem.

The Potters had just three fourth-quarter points, but the Rockets never threatened after mustering only one point themselves over the first five minutes.

Limestone is the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A Bloomington Regional, so Morton feels like it has a shot to make a run in the postseason.

“We’re definitely starting to climb that peak,” said Becker.

Livingston had 13 points, with 10 coming in the second half.

Both coaching staffs wore pink and the Limestone players donned pink socks.

“It was a good charity event and we had a good game tonight,” Nimmo said.

The Potters presented a $1,000 check to the American Cancer Society.

Big final week: Morton conducted Senior Night activities when it met Washington last night.

The Potters go to Metamora tomorrow for the Mid-Illini finale.

The Lady Panthers and Redbirds are the top two teams in the conference.

“We’ll try to redeem ourselves from last time,” Nimmo said of losses to the foes in the first round of league play.

Postseason: Fourth-seeded Morton plays No. 5 seed Mahomet-Seymour at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Class 3A Bloomington Regional quarterfinals.

The winner faces No. 1 seed Limestone at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals.