“Definitely did not cross my mind”

Morton’s Lady Potters 60, Pekin 40

You have never heard me complain about my seat in the Potterdome. I love the place. I love being on any row anywhere in the building. Ten years now, I’ve watched the Lady Potters and have loved every minute of it. But tonight. Tonight. Ah, sweet night it was.

The first time Maggie Hobson touched the ball, the 5-foot-8 sophomore guard shot it.

I didn’t see that shot.

I had chosen to sit in a place which I should not have chosen.

People walked/climbed/jumped around/on/through me. They were mostly whose ages can be reported in single digits.

The darlings were always on their way somewhere.

Then the sweethearts always came back from wherever they had gone.

As the little dear ones returned and bumped/fell/swirled around me with their soft drinks and popcorn, Maggie Hobson’s shot must have been a very good shot.

I can say that because the public address announcer, Brian Newnan, did his iconic “Threeeeeeee” thing.

So I turned to a man two rows up and said, “Who scored?”

“Maggie,” the man said.

So it was 3-0, Morton, and the undefeated Potters were on their way to their 29th victory (39 in a row counting last season). At 12-0 in the Mid-Illini Conference, they clinched their sixth straight league championship (and now have won 59 straight M-I games). Over the last five seasons and this one, they are 193-13.

At 3-0, Morton, I made a slight adjustment in my seat. I scooched over to close off the lovables’ passageway to the sugar factories. After that, I saw Maggie Hobson do what even she didn’t imagine doing.

A year ago at this time, after a junior varsity game, she climbed into the bleachers, all the way to the top on the side across from the bench, and there she operated the oscillating spotlight that, in the darkened Potterdome, is used to illuminate each of the Potters as they run onto the court in the introductions of starting lineups.

Tonight she was IN the starting lineup.

Someone up there shone a light on her.

Maggie Hobson did not so muchy as dress for a varsity game as a freshman.

If this were Broadway, we’d say she had gone from stagehand to star.

“That definitely did not cross my mind,” she said, smiling at the wonder of what can happen in a year.

After that first shot, I saw Hobson’s next three and they all were excellent shots, two THREEEEE’s and a put-back rebound off a missed free throw.

That first 3 came at 7:35 of the first quarter. The second came at 4:22. The put-back at 3:15. The third 3 at 2:33 giving Morton a 22-5 lead.

A varsity starter in five games now – moving up after Maddy Becker’s knee injury – Hobson had scored 11 points in less than six minutes. It wasn’t the 30 she’d scored in a jayvee game at Limestone last month. It was much better than that.

I asked the obvious: “That first quarter, Maggie, what’d you think?”

“I think it went pretty well.”

“Really. Three 3’s, bang-bang-bang.”

“It was the first game,” she said, “when my shots started to fall.”

“It was great to see the ball go in for her,” the Potters’ coach, Bob Becker, said. He’d been pleased with her hustle and aggressiveness both on defense and rebounding. (She led the team in rebounds her first two starts. She explained: “Coach told me, ‘If you go looking for the ball, the ball will find you.’”) But with Maddy Becker lost for the season, Hobson’s potential as a 3-point shooter was valuable and worth waiting for. The coach said. “Tonight was about building confidence for her, knowing she can knock down shots.”

Anyway, the Potters led at the quarter, 26-3. At the half, 38-12. They led, 50-21 late in the third. After that, lots of ugly commenced.

Wait. You do want a Morton High School pep band review, right?

The pep band was sensational.

When it wasn’t playing, its members were announcing the number of threeeee’s made by the Potters. There were seven in the first half, eight in all.

I paid attention to the band because that p.a. man, Newman, had opened the game with this: “And a shout-out to the pep band’s contra-line.”

Huh?

“Contras are marching tubas,” Newman explained. They’re smaller, hefted on a shoulder. “The tubas that wrap around you, they’re not tubas – they’re sousaphones.”

Darned if I don’t learn something new every day.

Oh, one more thing. Reunion time in the Potterdome.

The first Potters game I ever saw was 12 years ago, Brooke Bisping’s senior year. The Potters had a promising freshman, Erin Tisdale, later a star and now, six years after high school graduation, a Nurse Practitioner in Cleveland.

Her parents, Kurt and Amy, did a wonderful thing tonight. They drove from their home in Iowa to Illinois in order to catch a plane to Florida tomorrow.

“But when we got to Morton,” Kurt said, “we saw there was a game, so we had to come.”

Of course.

Lindsey Dullard led Morton’s scoring tonight with 12. Hobson had her 11. Ten more Potters scored: Courtney Jones 7, Katie Krupa 6, Raquel Frakes 6, Gabby Heer 3, Paige Griffin 3, Makenna Baughman 3, Peyton Dearing 3, Faith Hostetler 2, Olivia Remmert 2, Cailyn Cowley 2.


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