MORRIS – For the better part of a half Monday night, the Morris girls basketball team was hanging right with Interstate 8 Conference rival Ottawa. The Redskins led 7-6 after one quarter and trailed only 16-13 at halftime.
In short, the game was going pretty much how Morris wanted.
Enter Brooke Waddell.
The 5-foot-5 junior from Ottawa was told by coach Brent Moore at halftime that the Pirates were going to try to free her up for some shots.
She did not disappoint.
Waddell drained three consecutive 3-pointers from the left wing, the third from well behind the arc, a la Steph Curry, to help push Ottawa (7-6, 5-5 I-8) to a 25-13 lead. After the mask break in the third quarter, Ottawa got a bucket from Zoe Harris to go ahead 27-13 en route to a 35-22 win.
“I personally talked to Brooke at halftime and told her we were going to get her some shots,” Moore said. “She’s been our best 3-point shooter all year, and when she made those three in a row, it really got our energy going on the defensive end as well.”
For Waddell, it was a matter of finding a spot on the floor that she liked. That turned out to be the left wing.
“All of those 3-pointers were from the same side of the floor,” she said. “I like shooting from that spot. It made me feel good that Coach wanted to get me some shots, and it made it a lot easier for us once we got a bigger lead.”
The Ottawa defense held Morris scoreless in the third quarter until Alexis Johnson (six points) drove through the lane for a layup with 2:13 left in the quarter to make it 27-15. After a free throw by Ottawa’s Cheyenne Joachim, Johnson closed the quarter with a 3-pointer, cutting the Ottawa lead to 28-18 entering the fourth.
Morris (4-9, 2-8) got a pair of free throws by Mackenzie Lind to open the fourth-quarter scoring. Maddie Caroll, who finished with 10 points, scored on a basket underneath, then hit a pair of free throws to give Ottawa a 32-20 lead. After Lind assisted on a bucket by Kyla Kjellesvik, Waddell, fittingly, capped the scoring with her fourth 3-pointer of the game.
“You know you have to be ready to play when you come to Morris,” Moore said. “[Morris coach] Luke [Windy] does a fantastic job with his girls, and they play hard from the opening tip to the end of the game.”
Morris kept things tight in the early going, as a Lind basket and a free throw by Maddy Shannon (six points) put the Redskins ahead, 3-2. Ottawa got baskets by Zoe Harris and Carroll to move ahead, 6-3. Morris’ Moriah Mayberry hit a free throw and Shannon drained a 3-pointer to put Morris up 7-6 at the end of the first.
Ottawa went on a 4-1 spurt early in the second to take a 10-8 lead, but Shannon drove the lane for a basket to tie the score at 10. Carroll then scored a basket and hit a pair of free throws to spark a 6-0 run, with free throws by Grace Carroll and Ella Marvel also contributing. But Morris got a free throw by Kjellesvik and a basket by Liz Kenney to cut the lead to 16-13 entering halftime.
“Our defensive effort was there all game,” Windy said. “We made a couple of mental mistakes and left Waddell open. Give her credit, she knocked those shots down, and that was the difference. She had 12 points on those 3-pointers, and we lost by 13.
“We were aggressive going to the basket in the first half and shot 10 free throws. But we only made four. We have to be able to knock down more free throws than that, especially when we are being aggressive going to the basket.
“All in all, it was good effort by our girls tonight. We didn’t have much prep time, and the girls did a good job for the most part.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle