MORRIS – Earlier this season, the Morris boys basketball team played back-to-back games in the Plano Christmas Classic that saw the Redskins hold a lead late in the game, only to see it evaporate and lose by a point.
The Redskins seem to have learned from those tough losses to Plano and Coal City, and on Friday night, they were able to withstand a furious late comeback by Kaneland and hang on to defeat the Knights, 53-50, in Northern Illinois Big 12 action.
“We had those games against Plano and Coal City where they made runs at the end,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “We weren’t able to stop them and didn’t make plays when we needed to.
“In this game, we got a big basket by Logan Edwards, we got one by Jacob Ovebeck and then Chatten Dryfhout made a big play on defense at the other end. This was a good win for us.”
It was the second win in three home games for the Redskins this season. It also improved their season record to 7-10 and evened their NIB 12 mark at 2-2.
Overbeck finished with a career-high 24 points. After Kaneland tied the score at 50 on a basket by Chase Carlson with 1:03 to play, the Redskins ran
40 seconds off the clock before Overbeck drove in from the right wing and scored for a 52-50 lead with 23 seconds remaining.
During Kaneland’s ensuing possession, Dryfhout, who finished with seven points, deflected a pass, then saved it to Overbeck as it was going out of bounds.
Overbeck was fouled with 3.4 seconds left and made the first of two free throws. The Kaneland inbounds pass was batted down by Jack Walker
(11 points), and Morris’ Ryan Lain picked up the loose ball to end the game.
“Coach Blumberg does a great job of scouting teams and analyzing what they do,” Overbeck said. “We were very well-prepared for what Kaneland was going to do.
“It’s nice to get out here on our own floor and play in front of our students and our fans. This is the floor we practice on every day and we are used to it. We haven’t played here often this year, but we’ve won two of our three games here.”
Overbeck was instrumental in the Redskins building their early lead, which reached 18 points at 40-22 midway through the third quarter. The Redskin senior made 10 of 12 free throws in the first half to help Morris to a 25-14 halftime lead.
“One of the big keys early was getting to the free-throw line,” Overbeck said. “We were in the bonus at the end of the first quarter, so in the second quarter, I drove and got fouled and got to the line.”
Morris started strong in the third, as Dryfhout hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, then turned a steal into a layup to give his team a 30-14 lead. After a basket by Kaneland’s Bryce Ebert, Overbeck hit a 3-pointer and Walker followed with a short jumper to put the Redskins ahead, 35-16. Walker hit a 3-pointer later in the quarter and a basket by Edwards gave the Redskins a 40-22 advantage.
Kaneland began its comeback there, though, as they scored the final nine points of the third quarter to cut the lead to 40-31 heading into the final period.
Wyatt Peeler, who hit a 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter, started the fourth with another trey, and a basket by Jacob Vogt cut the Morris lead to 40-36. Overbeck countered with 3-pointers at 6:40 and 6:11 on the clock, pushing the Redskins ahead, 46-36.
Kaneland, however, responded with a 12-2 run, including two more 3-pointers by Peeler, to tie the game at 48 and set up the crucial final 1:20.
“I thought the first four minutes of the third quarter was some of the best basketball we have played all year,” Blumberg said. “We controlled the tempo for the first half and the first half of the third quarter, but they sped us up a little bit at the end of the third quarter. That made us a little uncomfortable and we made some turnovers that let them get back in the game.
“Overall, defensively, our kids really got after them. We saw some fatigue in the fourth quarter and gave up the baseline a bit too much, but overall, we did a good job.”