Redbirds quell girls

Bryan Veginski
Beyond the reach of the defense: Morton senior Brooke Bisping, middle, scores two of her 24 points Thursday despite the presence of a flock of Redbirds. The No. 1 seed Potters lost in the Class 3A Washington Regional final, 71-63.

Morton bounced the Limestone girls basketball team from the postseason Feb. 17.

The Potters survived a potential stumbling block by topping the Rockets, 50-40, in the Class 3A Washington Regional semifinals.

Morton won the season series with the Rockets, 2-1, as Brooke Bisping led the girls with 19 points on 12-of-14 free throws.

Mariah Nimmo and Sarah Hendricks also were in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the No. 1 seed Potters.

Natecia Augusta paced fourth-seeded Limestone with a game-high 20 points.

Morton outscored the Rockets 31-18 combined in the first and third quarters.

Metamora 71, MHS 63: The Redbirds have struggled recently against the Potters.

But Metamora’s second win in the last 10 meetings with Morton easily made up for the eight losses.

The No. 3 seed Redbirds captured the regional plaque Thursday with a sizzling shooting performance at Torry Gymnasium.

The Potters’ string of consecutive regional championships ended at four.

Morton (21-10) had trouble containing the Metamora combination of Sam Kapraun and Lauren Link, who totaled 43 points.

The high school career of Bisping, one of the best Potter basketball players ever, came to a close.

The girls’ all-time leading scorer, Bisping finished with a typical robust game of 24 points and 12 rebounds.

“Our kids had an opportunity to play with a great player and a great kid to learn from,” said MHS head coach Bob Becker. “... Brooke had an unbelievable year.”

Bisping was the Mid-Illini Conference’s scoring and rebounding champion.

Points came in bunches in the first half and the pace did not slow down in the second.

The first quarter featured six lead changes and three ties before the Redbirds secured a 17-15 edge.

Metamora was up by six points in the second period before an 8-2 Potter spurt was ignited by three-pointers on consecutive possessions by Nimmo and Hendricks.

Bisping’s three-point play at 1:50 gave Morton its first lead since midway through the first quarter.

The Redbirds knotted the game at halftime, 32-32, after four free throws from Courtney DeLap completed a surprising 11-point first half from the senior.

Metamora seized momentum coming out of the locker room after intermission with an 11-2 run.

It never trailed again.

In that span of 3:26, the Redbirds were 5-of-7 from the floor and the Potters were 1-of-6.

But the game was a long ways from being decided.

A Bisping old-fashioned three-point play and Nimmo bucket, separated by just three seconds, halved the Metamora margin to 48-43 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

Field goals by Erin Tisdale and Caitlyn Vandermeer kept Morton within five points with eight minutes to go.

It was a four-point spread early in the fourth period when Justine Phillips and Kapraun hit back-to-back treys to give the Redbirds a boost.

“They earned it and I hope they do well,” Becker said of Metamora. “I really respect what coach (Kathy) Wainman is doing.”

The Potters twice reduced their deficit to six points, the last time at 65-59 on a Tisdale shot at the 1:58 mark.

Vandermeer had 13 points and four rebounds, while Nimmo supplied 11 points and five boards.

All eight of Hendricks’ points came in the first half.

Despite having only three players — Bisping, Hendricks and Nimmo — with experience coming into the season, Morton surpassed 20 wins and registered a Mid-Illini title.

“We had kids step up and buy into what we were trying to do,” said Becker. “I think their future is bright.”