Potters pull out OT victory

Bryan Veginski
Tough to contain: Morton junior point guard Mariah Nimmo, right, averaged 22 points per game in three girls basketball contests last week. The Potters climbed to 5-6 in the Mid-Illini Conference after defeating Dunlap Thursday and Canton Saturday.

Another big night from Mariah Nimmo was not enough to save the Morton girls basketball team Jan. 26.

Nimmo provided a game-high 25 points, but the Potters lost to Mid-Illini Conference rival East Peoria for the first time since Feb. 17 2003, 61-52.

Morton’s 15-game winning streak against the Raiders was snapped as Emilee Brown had a career-high 19 points for the visitors.

Normally an exclusive outside shooter, Brown consistently beat the Potters on drives to the basket.

“We got back-cut a bunch,” MHS head coach Bob Becker said. “We took a huge step back tonight.”

The Potters posted a couple solid wins the previous weekend and were optimistic about playing the bottom two league teams at home in back-to-back games.

A 15-0 East Peoria run that spanned the third and fourth quarters doomed Morton.

Nimmo had eight points in the first period and her bucket on a spin move in the final seconds lifted the Potters to a 14-14 draw.

Caitlyn Vandermeer and Nimmo combined for nine of Morton’s 10 points in the second quarter as the hosts led 24-23 at intermission.

Vandermeer made her shots early and Nimmo’s late three-pointer broke the sixth tie of the opening half.

Carly Crocker’s alert assist to Gabby Closner at the 3:50 mark of the third period evened the contest at 28.

But East Peoria embarked on a 12-3 push the rest of the way to take a nine-point bulge into the fourth quarter.

The Potters’ lone field goal during the sequence was a step-back three by Nimmo.

Morton fell into a 16-point hole in the fourth, 47-31, when the Raiders reeled off seven straight points.

Nimmo supplied consecutive baskets and Sarah Livingston got in the scoring column with two field goals just 33 seconds apart to give the girls a glimmer of hope.

The Potters got hot from long distance in the last three minutes and capitalized on East Peoria turnovers to give themselves a chance.

“We played with intensity when our backs were against the wall,” Becker said.

Lexi Ellis made a pair of triples and Nimmo another. Erin Tisdale squeezed a bucket in as Morton drew as close as 57-52 with 55 second remaining.

The Potters fouled and the Raiders missed the front end of a one-and-bonus at :36.0.

But after Morton secured the rebound, Brown stole the ball and East Peoria made four free throws to wrap up head coach Pete McGinnes’ first win over the Potters since leaving Limestone after the ’02-03 season.

Until the second half of the fourth quarter, there was not a lot of production for Morton besides Nimmo’s output, which included six assists.

“They’re not playing with confidence to look to score,” said Becker of the surrounding cast.

Ellis totaled seven points and Vandermeer and Tisdale six apiece.

Kelsey Shoemake had 16 points and a game-leading 10 rebounds for East Peoria.

Morton 54, Dunlap 28

The Potters kept the Eagles sliding with a one-sided decision Thursday at home.

Morton handed Dunlap its fifth straight conference defeat after holding the guests to single digits in each of the last three quarters.

The Potters swept the Eagles for the season as Nimmo made five threes on the way to a game-leading 20 points.

Livingston chipped in 15 points in Morton’s second win over Dunlap in the last 13 days.

Vandermeer added six points as the Potters got to double-figure wins for the season.

Lexi Hobbs was responsible for half of the Eagles’ offense with 14 points.

Morton 48, Canton 42 (OT)

The Potters improved to 4-2 in conference road games after surprising the Lady Giants Saturday.

Morton (11-15, 5-6) dropped Canton from second place to fourth in the M-I standings after an overtime victory.

Nimmo was an amazing 13-of-13 on free throws in the win, which allowed the Potters to split the regular-season matchup. She led all scorers with 21 points.

Morton outscored the Lady Giants 16-9 in the fourth quarter to force the extra session.

Vandermeer, Livingston, Tisdale and Ellis all had between four and seven points.

Mallory Moser, a near-certain all-conference pick, was the lone Canton player in double digits with 11 points.

Postseason: Morton is a No. 4 seed in the Class 3A Bloomington Regional.

The Potters will face No. 5 seed Mahomet-Seymour in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15.

The winner will meet top-seeded Limestone at 6 p.m. Feb. 16.