Just three weeks into 2020, the Morton Lady Potters have had a number of challenges thrown at them. From facing tough, State ranked competition on the road, to battling through injuries to key players, managing #1 rankings, winning streaks and reaching milestones, these Lady Potters have passed every test to improve their season record to 22-0.
Into the Lions Den
The Lady Potters first game in 2020 was a trip into the Lions Den to face the formidable Peoria High Lions who are currently 17-3 and ranked #7 in the State of Illinois in the latest AP poll. I think they may be underrated at #7 myself. The Lions play fast and furious on defense and like to make their opponents uncomfortable by speeding them up and making decisions quicker than they want to. The Lady Potters were expecting the inevitable pressure and physical play of the Lions coming into the game, but it still caused headaches for the Potters. A season high 21 turnovers was a result. It certainly didn’t help matters that the Lady Potters were still trying to adjust to life without their star 6th man, Raquel Frakes, who broke a bone in her left wrist vs Lincoln-Way West at the State Farm Classic in December. Coach Becker used the opportunity to test some players that had not been put in that situation before. Luckily the Lady Potters were able to make enough big plays down the stretch to pull away for a 48-42 win. I think the Lady Potters players and coaching staff learned a lot from the game.
The Lady Potters have several winning streaks going on currently. They currently have won 22 games straight this season and 32 in a row going back to their last loss (Feb 2nd, 2019 OT loss vs Fremd). They have won 54 straight Mid-Illini Conference games in a row and the Seniors (Class of 2020) have never lost a Mid-Illini game. They have been the model of Consistent Excellence winning all 49 of their Mid-Illini contests so far. Through the first half of Mid-Illini Conference play the Lady Potters are 7-0 and have a 2 game lead on 2nd place teams Washington & Dunlap (both 5-2). The Lady Potters have won the Mid-Illini Conference 5 years in a row and are going for their 6th. Their last Conference loss was at East Peoria, on January 22nd, 2016. With all of the lofty rankings, winning streaks and past success, comes a big target on your back every night. Everyone has the Lady Potter game circled on their schedule. Which means that the Lady Potters have to circle every game on their schedule.
A Mighty Big Milestone
If you haven’t heard yet about Coach Becker’s 500th win on Saturday, January 18th, I only have one question for you. Where have you been? The 500th win came in a 55-25 victory over Lincoln High School at the PotterDome. Almost exactly 3 years after his 400th win which came on January 14th, 2017 vs Normal U-High. This is Coach Becker’s 21st year as Head Coach of the Morton Lady Potters. His career record is currently 501 wins and 149 losses (.771). You can view his entire bio page by clicking here: Coach Becker Bio Page. Congrats Coach!!!
The Injury Bug
Injuries seem to happen every year and this year is no exception, as the injury bug is hitting the Lady Potters hard this month. The Lady Potters’ lost super athletic Junior guard-forward, Raquel Frakes to a wrist injury on December 28th. She is hopeful to return January 25th. Coach Becker has called Raquel the “Best 6th Man in the State”, which goes to show you how much he thinks of her and her role with the Lady Potters. Less than 2 weeks later, All-State guard-forward, Lindsey Dullard get’s a concussion, 49 seconds into the game with Metamora on January 11th, on a hard foul as she was going up for a lay-up. Lindsey missed the rest of the Metamora game, as well as the Conference road game at Dunlap and the non-conference games vs Lincoln & Galesburg. Her return date is unknown, but will hopefully be back in a week or two if all goes well. In the absence of these two Lady Potter stars, everyone else has stepped up and taken larger roles. The Potters are still winning games by large margins, but one thing I have noticed is that the defense has really stepped it up. The Potters had been allowing 40.1 ppg prior to the new year and through the last 7 games are only allowing 27.8 ppg and 26.75 ppg over their last 4 games. Coach Becker’s response, when asked what his team would be like when Dullard & Frakes return, was “SCARY”.
The Lady Potters play Bloomington High School on Tuesday, Jan 21st at the PotterDome, then will continue Mid-Illini Conference play on Thursday, Jan 23rd at East Peoria and host Rock Island on Saturday, Jan 25th. The Lady Potters have 9 games left before the post season begins and 7 of those games will be at home in the PotterDome. So don’t miss the opportunity to come out and cheer on your Lady Potters!