Morris overtakes Kaneland in 4th quarter

 
 
Updated 12/5/2014 11:18 PM

Kaneland shot the first 15 free throws in its game Friday night at Morris -- a fact that didn't sit well with the hometown fans.

Morris coach Joe Blumberg also didn't like it, though not exactly for the same reason.

 

"It was 15-0 at one point and that's not an officiating comment, it's an aggressiveness comment," Blumberg said. "They were attacking the rim and we were sort of passive. I thought us being more aggressive allowed us back in the game."

Morris got back into the game and then some. The next 18 free throw attempts all went to Morris, and after being 15 attempts behind the Knights in the third quarter, Morris wound up shooting seven more.

Free throws were just part of the problem for the Knights in their fourth straight loss, a 52-46 final.

The main culprit was a six-minute dry spell in the fourth quarter. After the Knights built a pair of 11-point leads -- 19-8 early in the second quarter and again at 30-19 in the third -- Morris outscored Kaneland 24-6 to take control 43-36 with two minutes remaining. Kaneland got no closer than 4 points.

Austin Patterson highlighted the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers that broke a 36-36 tie and put Morris up 42-36.

"They hit some big shots and we turned the ball over some down the stretch," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. "We've been plagued by turnovers so far this season. We didn't hit shots when we needed to but it wasn't from a lack of effort."

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Kaneland (1-4, 0-1) got that early advantage at the line by going inside to junior Jacob Gomes. He scored 7 points in the first quarter on his way to a team-high 14 points.

Gomes also attempted 11 free throws. Morris (5-1, 1-0) answered with Evan Bjelland getting to the line 9 times, Cody Niewinski 8 and Matt Walker 6 -- all in the second half.

"I thought we started playing better post defense on Gomes," Blumberg said. "He's a handful. We started attacking the rim a little bit more and got to the line and that opened up the 3-point arc and our seniors finally started knocking down shots."

Bjelland led all scorers with 21 points including a running, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside half court to end the first half. The Knights had held the ball for the final 55 seconds before being called for a 5-second call that set up Bjelland's long 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Instead of taking an 8- or 10-point lead to halftime, Kaneland settled for a 24-19 advantage.

Dylan Vaca added 13 points for the Knights. He also was one of five players to foul out including teammates Ryan David and Mark Lilly.

"This is the most inspired I've seen our boys all year," Johnson said. "I was a little worried coming into the game and I'm glad to see we fought hard. There's no shame in losing when you fight hard."

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