NORMAL — "Do it for Chan" became reality for the Morton High School girls basketball team Saturday at Redbird Arena.
Despite losing senior star Chandler Ryan to a season-ending injury in December, the No. 1-ranked Potters completed a quest for a repeat Class 3A state championship with a commanding 58-41 title game victory over unranked Chicago North Lawndale.
"I'm a little bit numb. Back to back sounds pretty sweet," Morton coach Bob Becker said. "It's an incredible accomplishment. We work our tails off. These girls deserved it and earned it."
Sparked by a fast start, the Potters led comfortably the entire second half. Ryan had changed into her uniform at halftime, and the focus became getting her in the game in the final seconds.
"From the fourth quarter on, we talked about how we needed to get Chan on the court for how much work she did for us and for herself," said junior Brandi Bisping.
"Getting her out there was such an amazing moment for everyone, not just Chan. To see her in uniform again, the smallest thing like that, brought tears to my eyes."
Ryan, who scored a team-high 20 points in last season's championship game victory over Rochester, entered the game with 27.9 seconds left to a standing ovation from the Morton faithful. Becker quickly called timeout allowing a visibly emotional Ryan to check out.
"The kids are so resilient. They kept the expectations the same," Becker said of Ryan's injury. "Next girl up. It happened in game nine so we had a lot of time to get better and better.
"These last couple games at state we executed game plans perfectly. It's a special group. They're winners. They're champs."
Morton (33-3) motored to a 7-0 lead and held a 12-1 advantage as North Lawndale missed its first 12 shots from the field and didn't hit a shot until the 5:48 mark of the second quarter.
Bisping topped the Potters with 19 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Tenley Dowell added 11 points.
DeAsa Almon and Kia Brooks scored 13 points each for North Lawndale (23-12).
Highland 62, Morgan Park 51: No. 6 Highland trailed No. 2 Morgan Park by 11 midway through the second quarter but quickly turned the tide to lead 43-34 through three periods.
Alex LaPorta scored 20 points, Amanda Ponce 19 and Madison Wellen 17 for Highland (31-5).
Morgan Park (30-5) was led by the 18 points of Gabrielle Cooper.
Queen of the Hill: Lincoln junior Hailie Williams is the state's Queen of the Hill after hitting 11 of 15 3-point shots in competition at Redbird Arena on Saturday.
"This is pretty awesome," Williams said. "It just depends on how you're shooting that day."
The Class 3A champion, Williams went last among the four competitors and had the nine of 2A champion Cami Meddows of Trenton Wesclin to beat.
"I was more nervous than yesterday," said Williams. "I made 11 and I wanted to make 11 again."