NORMAL — The Morton Machine is once again operating at peak efficiency.
Inspired by falling short of Redbird Arena last season, the Morton High School girls basketball team forcefully reclaimed the Class 3A state championship Saturday with a convincing 35-21 win over Glenbard South.
The No. 3-ranked Potters scored the game's first 15 points while earning their fourth state crown in five seasons.
“It was super motivating. Last year was just super disappointing how we ended,” Morton senior Tenley Dowell said. “We worked so hard this year. We knew we wanted it. We wanted to make a statement so we did.”
The Potters, who were eliminated in the sectional finals last season by Peoria Richwoods, finished at 33-3.
“We’ve got to give Richwoods credit. They made us into somewhat of a hunter. They motivated us,” said Morton coach Bob Becker, whose team ousted Richwoods in this year's sectional finals. “These kids just got right back to work. It changed our mindset a little bit. Maybe that was a good thing.”
Morton blitzed Glenbard South (27-8) with a suffocating start. A Lindsey Dullard 3-pointer gave the Potters an 11-0 cushion. The Raiders’ only points of the opening quarter came on a Raquel LaPonte trey at the 1:04 mark.
“It was a relentless pursuit of the ball to try to get us in a tempo game,” Becker said. “We knew this team only gave up 50 once this year. There are different ways to play the game of basketball. We wanted to establish some sort of tempo and put them out of their comfort zone.”
Glenbard South’s scoring woes continued in the second quarter. Raiders’ all-stater Maggie Bair picked up her third foul 51 seconds before halftime, and Glenbard South managed only a Cat Karr driving basket in the period and faced a 24-5 deficit at the break.
Morton skidded on a dry stretch in the third quarter, missing all six of its shots and scoring only on two Katie Krupa free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining. Still, the Raiders could only rally within 26-14.
“The second half they got control of the tempo, but we didn’t quit,” said Becker. “The third quarter was rough, but we kept our poise and composure.”
A freshman, Krupa matched Dowell, a Drake recruit, for Morton’s high scoring honors with 10 points apiece. Lauren Cohen topped Glenbard South with eight.
“We had a hard road to get here,” Dowell said. “I’m proud of everyone.”
Nazareth Academy 61, Springfield SHG 54: Harvard recruit Annie Stritzel's 30 points, eight rebounds and three steals sparked Nazareth Academy to the third-place game victory.
Jovanna Martinucci added 14 points for the No. 4-ranked Roadrunners, who were outrebounded, 49-30, while improving to 32-4.
Sacred Heart-Griffin (29-8) received 14 points from Sophnie Lowis, 12 points and nine rebounds from Payton Vorreyer and nine points and 12 boards from Addison Scarlette.
Hononegah 43, Benet 39: Rockton Hononegah overcame a 12-3 first quarter deficit to take a 23-22 halftime lead before holding off Benet Academy of Lisle in the Class 4A third-place game.
Jordan King led Hononegah (33-5) with 15 points and seven rebounds. The victors outscored Benet, 10-2, in second-chance points and 10-0 in fast break points.
Brooke Schramek led Benet (28-7) with 17 points.
Maine West 58, Mother McAuley 46: No. 1 state-ranked Maine West completed a perfect season with the win in the Class 4A championship game.
Rachel Kent scored 19 points for Maine West (35-0), which shot 61.8 percent from the floor. Dylan VanFleet and Angela Dugalic added 17 and 14 points respectively with Dugalic also pulling down 11 rebounds.