“In 3A basketball, Morton is the model”

Morton’s Lady Potters 79, Geneseo 48

My notebook is full of “Dull” does this, “Dull” does that, “Dull” being Lindsey Dullard, Lindsey Dullard never dull, Dullard being five kinds of sensational tonight, and six kinds if we count cheerleading, which we do because after scoring 28 points in about a half, the 6-foot-1 senior all-stater walked the length of the Lady Potters bench slapping hands with teammates before taking a seat, her smile lighting up the arena.

Had she ever before scored 28?

“Not that I know of,” she said.

Even in grade school?

“Nope.”

Look at the notes, all in the first quarter: Dull steals. Dull FT, Dull 3 left c, Dull driving, Dull LU, Dull 3 left c, Dull LU, Frakes off Dull pass, KK pass to Dull LU, Dull 16 pts . . .

Thing is, it looked easy. It looked easy the way the good ones make the hard stuff look easy. It looked more than easy, it looked inevitable. Every time Dullard touched the ball, she would score. That, or she’d make a pass that only she saw – only she saw Katie Krupa flying ahead of the pack, only she saw a way to get the ball from mid-court to Krupa a step away from a layup while everyone else, mostly Geneseo players, watched her do what only she saw could be done.

The further thing is, it was 28 points on its way to 50. Dullard had 16 in the first quarter, 23 in the half, 28 two minutes into the third quarter – at which point Morton led, 66-24, game over, case closed, mercy declared, time for Dullard to take a smiling seat.

The quarter-final victory in the State Farm Holiday Classic gave the undefeated Potters their 13th victory and moved them into Saturday night’s semis against New Lenox Lincoln Way-West. Counting last season, the defending state 3A champions have won 23 straight games.

Wait. On Dullard, did I say five ways of sensational?

1) As long has been Dullard’s habit, she nailed three 3’s, all from the left side…2) after a summer’s work adding a powerful weapon to her offense, she showed it off tonight by weaving her way through crowds for driving layups finished with either hand…3) she stole passes she had no business reaching and helped shut down Geneseo’s inside offense . . . 4) the team’s leading rebounder all season, she ripped them down with a strongman’s authority again tonight…and 5) she made those passes that no one else imagined, the one to Krupa a beauty and the best a pass to a sliver of daylight with Peyton Dearing waiting to finish a fast break.

“I love making those passes,” Dullard said. “My teammates are running the floor hard and I love getting the ball to them.”

If the ultimate test of a player is what Michael Jordan always said it was – does he make his teammates better? – Lindsey Dullard’s performance tonight was one more piece of evidence that she has lifted the Potters to a month-long streak of exceptional play.

Look, Geneseo was no bunch of stiffs. Like Morton, it was undefeated in 12 games. But, alas, alack, and sad to say for the Geneseoans, some 12-0 records are better than others, as Morton proved in the first 32 seconds tonight.

Twelve seconds in, Maddy Becker’s 3 announced the Potters’ intent. Twenty seconds later, Dullard’s interception of a cross-court pass and sprint for a layup-and-one pretty much sealed the deal, psychically if not emperically.

Soon enough, relentless at both ends as always, the Potters went on a 14-0 run for a 24-6 lead in only six minutes of play. At that rate, Morton wins, 127-32. It still seemed like a game – well, not really, but play along with me – when Morton’s lead was 35-16 midway in the second quarter.

But at 3:40 Krupa scored on a layup to send Morton on an 18-5 run for a 53-21 lead at the half.

My favorite moment in that run was a Dullard moment, of course. Driving from the left side, she somehow threw an airball off the glass. But she caught it on the other side and put it back in. So the stats would show her with two shots and a rebound and two points, all in one move. (For the game, 11 of 14 shooting.)

Well, let’s call it my second-favorite moment. At the buzzer, Dullard threw in a three from the left corner, as if to show, again, that the Potters play every second of every minute of every quarter of every game.

Afterwards, I asked the Geneseo coach, Scott Hardison, what he thought of the Potters.

“I’ll give you the backstory first,” he said.

He’s in his eighth season as the Geneseo coach, and he’s had success, some 20-victory seasons, but not success of the Potters’ state-trophies kind. He called Bob Becker and asked if he could drive down to Peoria and take the Potters’ coach to dinner. You pick the place, Hardison said, I’ll buy.

They wound up at Tyroni’s Pizza in Bartonville. There Hardison asked, in essence, how is it done, how do you build a program that succeeds at the highest levels?

“Bob was very generous.” Hardison said. “He went through his entire history, the Tracy Pontius teams and on, and that’s the kind of program that we want. In Class 3A basketball, Morton is the model. We’re still building toward that.”

As for this Morton team, Hardison said, “You’ve got the two D-1 players (Dullard, Krupa) who can score inside and out. Courtney Jones is the glue that holds them all together. They’ve got the little left-handed guard who beats you (Dearing), and you’ve got Bob’s daughter, Maddy, who’ll make 3’s all day. And you’ve got the kid from Lewistown (Frakes) who can jump out of the building. And if you somehow stop them inside, they get it out to one of their seven shooters.

“Defensively, they’re great. I saw them play Bloomington here the other night, and I saw video of their Sycamore game last week. They played different defenses in both those games — and tonight they played another defense against us. We couldn’t run anything we normally run.

“And they never stop. Late in the second quarter, we were winded and so were they. But Bob came out on the floor and shouted at his kids, ‘They’re tired – and we’re NOT.’ And his kids believed it.”

The coach then said, “We’re looking forward to getting another chance with them, we’re likely to be in the same sectional.”

“Really?” I said. “You want them again?” (Morton made 28 of its first 37 shots tonight. It’s first six players were 31 for 41.)

Hardison almost smiled. “It’ll be a measuring stick for us.”

Dullard’s 28 led Morton. Becker had 12, Dearing 11, Frakes 10, Krupa 8, Jones 6, Maggie Hobson 2, Cailyn Cowley 2.


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