OTTAWA — For most of the game Friday afternoon, the Morris girls basketball team did what it wanted to do against Kankakee Bishop McNamara in the semifinals of the Silver Bracket at the Ottawa Lady Pirate Christmas Classic.
The Redskins (6-8) controlled the tempo for a great majority of the game and kept themselves close. In fact, Morris took a 41-40 lead in the fourth quarter when Carli Foddrill hit a three-pointer with 5:42 left in the game. It was the only lead Morris had in the second half.
Bishop Mac answered with two straight baskets, one by Jenna Hedge and one by Alison Berg, to take a 44-43 lead. Mya Shannon, who led the Redskins with 22 points, tied the game with a three-pointer with 2:54 to play, but Bishop Mac's Precious Browning (22 points) scored three quick baskets, two in transition off of Morris turnovers, and the Irish took a 50-44 lead en route to a 55-47 victory.
"This is the second game in a row when we took a team that is used to playing a fast-paced game and slowed them down and took them out of their comfort zone," Morris coach Kate Carey said. "But, in the fourth quarter, we have let it get away."
Early on, senior post player Gigi Corban carried the offensive load for Morris, scoring the first four points of the game. Bishop Mac countered with a 9-0 run before Morris put forth a rally of its own. Corban, who had 15 of her 19 points in the first half, hit a free throw to make it 9-5 and Shannon made one to make it 9-6. A basket by Bishop Mac's Alison Berg (12 points, 12 rebounds) made it 11-6, but Shannon hit a three-pointer to make it 11-9. A bucket by Kiaria Brown gave the Irish a 13-9 lead, but Morris' Kennedy Dransfeldt scored underneath and Shannon drained a three-pointer with three seconds left in the quarter to give Morris a 14-13 lead at the end of the quarter.
Corban scored the first 10 points of the second quarter for Morris, with the assist on three of her baskets coming from Paige Valentine. Corban's last basket tied the game at 24, but Bishop Mac closed the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 31-26 lead into halftime.
"Gigi is really having a great season," Carey said. "She has so much more confidence in herself and her teammates have a lot of confidence in her. It definitely gives other teams something to worry about, and that opens things up for everybody else."
The Morris defense tightened up in the third quarter, limiting Bishop Mac to eight points. Morris scored 10 in the quarter, closing the lead to 39-36 entering the fourth.
Shannon opened the quarter with a basket and, after a free throw by Bishop Mac's Claudia Dolliger, Foddrill hit a three-pointer to give Morris a 41-40 lead. Bishop Mac got its transition game in gear after that, and outscored Morris 15-6 the rest of the way.
"This game was another positive step for us," Carey said. "Our zone gave them trouble and we are getting better and better at playing it.
"We need to learn to close games out, but we are getting better. I think this game took us one step further in that process."