MORRIS – There are plenty of benefits for the host school when it comes to a big event such as the 21st annual Morris Ladies Shootout.
The school brings in a little money for its athletic program by charging admission and through the concession stand, other schools in the state get to see how well you can run a big event, you get to sleep in your own bed and not make a long drive and the proven ability to be a good host may even be enough to swing a regional or sectional your way.
Of course, there are downsides, as well.
There is all the planning and work involved, such as coordinating schedules, officials, food delivery, making sure all of the equipment is operating correctly and that the tournament runs smoothly.
And, if a team faces a scheduling crisis, it falls on the host school’s shoulders to come up with a solution.
DeKalb had that issue this year, as their new coach just recently was approved by the school board and didn’t know that summer school would be conflicting with the schedule the Barbs were given for the shootout.
Rather than make them forfeit their games in the morning session, Morris coach and tournament coordinator Kate Carey switched her team’s afternoon schedule with DeKalb’s morning schedule and the Barbs were able to make it and play in the afternoon while Morris played a morning slate.
Just a couple of years ago, the Morris boys team was faced with the same dilemma when Deerfield didn’t show up for its game, and Redskin coach Joe Blumberg split his team into Morris I and Morris II. Carey didn’t have the numbers to do that this year, so she did the next best thing by just switching time slots.
“Just one of the perks of being the home team,” Carey said. “I would much rather do what we did than make teams go without playing games, so it was a pretty easy decision.”
Opening the tournament by playing against a strong Minooka team may have made that decision a little harder to swallow, as the Indians handed Morris a 68-21 defeat.
But Morris rebounded with a much stronger effort against Andrew in a 34-26 loss before finishing with a 30-24 loss to Peotone.
Like many other teams at the shootout, Morris, which finished 16-12 last season, was not playing with the full group of girls that it hopes to put on the floor during the summer, due to conflicts with other sports.
However, Carey said that seniors Mya Shannon and Paige Valentine did a stellar job of providing direction to the predominantly underclass team that was there Tuesday. Besides Shannon and Valentine, Morris’ roster consisted of a junior, four sophomores and six freshmen.
“Mya was Mya,” Carey said about the player who soon will be the Redskins’ all-time leading scorer. “Minooka has seen her forever, so they both know how to defend her and they have the players who can do it. They are very good.
“Andrew tried to just play Mya straight up and she was able to beat her girl one-on-one and keep us in it all game. Against Peotone, they had one real good player, and she and Mya went back-and-forth all game.
“I also thought Paige Valentine did a good job all day of providing senior leadership, which is something we are going to need out of her when the season rolls around, so it was good to see her start doing it here today.”
Other than the one scheduling snafu, Carey noted that the rest of the tournament was running as smoothly as could be expected.
“No other major issues,” she said with a sigh of relief. “Of course, with the tournament comes the heat, so I have to give a big thank you to Sun Belt, which donated the big fans to keep the gym and fieldhouse as cool as it was and the floors dry. We usually rent from them, but they donated the fans this year and I can’t thank them enough for that.”