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"You just have to have fun with it", SJO basketball fall at home

The undefeated Morton girls basketball team had plenty of hype preceding their visit to St. Joseph-Ogden back on December 14.

The Potters, starting four juniors and a sophomore from last season's state title team, entered the game with an impressive 8-0 record and it was clear after the first four and half minutes of their game against the Spartans why.

Ella Armstrong looks for a step toward the paint in SJO's home game against Morton.
Ella Armstrong looks for a step toward the paint in SJO's home game against Morton. The Potters held the sophomore guard scoreless for 32 minutes. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)     .:: Buy this photo ::.

Morton jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and held it until SJO's Ashlyn Lannert found net giving her team the narrowest margin all night in the scoring gap between the #1 Class 3A team in the state with a little more than three minutes left in the first quarter. The Potters then used the next two quarters to steamroll their way to a 62-27 non-conference win.

"Games like this; going into it, you know, you just have to have fun with it," said Lannert, who led her team's scoring effort with 10 points. "They're 3A state champs. You just have to have a good attitude going into it and have a good time playing with everyone."

By the end of the first quarter the Spartans trailed by 22-9 thanks largely to shooting from Morton's aggressive defense in the form of anticipating passing lanes and swooping in to create turnovers on SJO possessions. Perimeter shooting and making 14 of their 15 first half free throw attempts stretched the Potters' lead to 25 at the half.

"That's definitely what we strive to be as a team," said Lannert, who was impressed by how tight Morton played as a team. "We'll get there some day. We're all really young and we all just need to keep working hard."

Spartan Taylor Wells takes a shot
Sophomore Taylor Wells goes up for a shot in the first half against the Potters. She finished the loss with six points for the SJO. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)     .:: Buy this photo ::.
In Morton's two games leading up to the clash in The Joe, the Potters iced the previous three opponents by 35 or more points. The Potters beat Canton 65-30 on the road at the beginning of December and crushed Pontiac at home by way of a 40-point advantage four days later, 75-35. After a three-day break, they pummeled nearby Pekin on their home court, 62-20.

You can't be the best if you don't play the best and that's why the Spartans schedule games against a program like Morton who has won the four out of the last five Class 3A state titles.

"We want to get that level at some point, too," said SJO head coach Kevin Taylor. "They have very few weaknesses if any at all. We competed the best we could and gave it our best shot."

He added: "We want to play them because that how we want to be down the road.

In addition to Lannert's team-high score, Taylor Wells came off the bench to contribute six points and Alyssa Hamilton added another four round out SJO's top three scorers.

Thanks to extremely well-discipline play, the Potters allowed just SJO just three free throw attempts. Wells missed on her only trip to the line and sophomore Abby Behrens went 1-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

The Potters had three players in double figures. Courtney Jones led all scorers with 16 points in three quarters. The senior drilled all three of her free throw attempts. Fellow senior Lindsey Dullard finished with 13 points and was 4-for-4 from the line, all in the first half against the Spartans.

Morton junior Raquel Frakes chipped in 11 points and also enjoyed a perfect night from the charity stripe hitting all three of her free throws.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 9 6 2 10 - 27
Morton 22 20 18 2 - 62

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 10, Taylor Wells 6, Abby Behrens 4, Alyssa Hamilton 5 and Anna Wentzloff 2.

Morton: Griffin 2, Becker 3, Jones 16, Frakes 11, Dearing 9, McCartney 2, Dullard, Krupa 4 and Baughman 2.

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