Morton runs past Pekin
The Limestone boys basketball team stayed perfect in the Mid-Illini Conference after completing a regular-season sweep of Morton.
The Rockets scored 22 first-quarter points Feb. 4 to leave the Potterdome with a 63-55 win.
Corey Dullard led the Potters with 16 points after making 12-of-13 free throws, but the team fell below the .500 mark overall for the first time since November.
Jake Morsch and Ryan Altenberger added nine points. The latter Morton player drained a trio of 3-pointers.
Ian Saathoff and Isaac Stephens had seven points apiece for the Potters, who had a tough shooting night.
The top scorer among three Limestone players in double figures was David Anderson with 17 points.
The Rockets remained ninth in the Associated Press Class 3A state poll.
MHS 57, Pekin 43
The Potters led from start-to-finish Friday on a special night at home.
Morton (11-11, 6-4) remained in third place in the conference with a sweep of the Dragons.
The impressive victory came after a check for more than $31,000 was donated to the Children's Hospital of Illinois through the fundraising efforts of the second annual Gameball Run.
"That kind of motivated us to get going," Dullard said. "We really wanted to get a win for them."
Dullard had a game-high 14 points, while Nick Taylor came off the bench to chip in 11. Combined, they hit 10-of-13 field goals.
The hot shooting was a theme throughout the Morton roster.
The Potters made eight of their first nine attempts to lead 20-6 just 11 seconds into the second quarter.
The pre-game festivities, which included the introduction of the six Miracle Families and the event sponsors, had a positive effect on Morton.
The boys knew this game, played in front of many fans adorning neon yellow T-shirts, carried more significance than most.
"We just tried to embrace that fact and try to say how much that should energize you," said MHS head coach Jarrett Brown.
After an early 4-4 tie, an incredible seven different Potters — Stephens, Breck Swinford, Saathoff, Nick Taylor, Jared Liddle and Morsch — scored during a 13-point onslaught.
At the other end, Morton defenders held Pekin scoreless for 6 minutes, 9 seconds.
The Dragons generated an 8-0 charge to pull within 22-16 with 2:53 left until intermission.
But just as quickly, the Potters regained control with seven straight points. Dullard drilled a 3-pointer before buckets by Swinford and Morsch.
The Morton advantage in the third period ranged from 11 to 16 points. Jonah Rumbold connected for a trey to begin the half and Dullard contributed two buckets.
Five Taylor points in a two-minute span early in the fourth quarter, with a nice assist by Morsch in the mix, gave the Potters their largest margin of the night at 50-31.
"What a huge boost," Brown said of Taylor, also noting the senior's rebounding and defense. "He impacted the game in a lot of different areas."
Morton was patient letting the clock wind down, but capitalized on good looks when they were available.
"I thought we really played smart with the lead," said Brown.
The Potters split five straight trips to the charity stripe, which was enough to prevent the Dragons from getting any closer than 14 points.
Dan Bolt capped the Morton scoring with a 2-for-2 showing at the line with 15.9 seconds to go.
Four Potters had at least five points for a squad that shot a blistering .588 (20-of-34) from the field.
Saathoff collected eight rebounds and Stephens seven as the hosts won the battle on the boards.
Bryce Hilst had 12 points and Ryan Maas 11 for Pekin.
Morton seems to like the matchup with the Dragons after winning the two 2013-14 games by an average of 20.5 points.