‘Great Arbitration’

Morton Lady Potters 48, Rock Island 35

I once knew a newspaper photographer named Ford Reid. He believed basketball was dull. He proposed changes, among them sliding floors, like in a funhouse. “That would slow people down,” he said. If a team got ahead by 20 points, its basket would move side to side and up and down. He also proposed a Great Arbitrator operating a joystick to control the basketball.

“Imagine guys on a fast break,” my friend said. “A long pass is thrown, but when the ball hits the floor, it just goes dead. Stops. Then, as everybody scrambles for the ball, the Great Arbitrator could make it go straight up in the air and the floor would start moving back and forth. That would put an end to dull basketball.”

Not to say such thoughts crossed my mind tonight during the Potters’ second-round victory in the State Farm Holiday Classic.

However, those thoughts crossed my mind on the way home.

Rock Island put them there. They seldom tried to score. The basket stayed in the same place all night, but the Rocks scored four points in the second quarter and one in the third.

It was not as if the Potters’ defense was sensational. It was OK man-to-man, but nothing sensational, mostly reactive. The Potters watched the Rocks dribble dribble dribble/pass pass pass/stand stand stand. Rock Island did score18 points in the fourth quarter when someone had the wild idea of throwing the ball in the air and hoping the Great Arbitrator would guide it into the hoop. AND HE DID! Rock Island’s three 3’s in the fourth, two in the last minute, gave the illusion of basketball.

For the second night in a row, the #1 seeded Potters, now 12-1 on the season, had a poor first half offensively, leading 22-17 at the intermission. But they didn’t follow up with a 29-point third quarter as they’d done against Bloomington. This time they had a 7-point third quarter, three coming on a Tatym Lamprecht shot in the first 35 seconds. “What were we on 3’s,” Katie Krupa said, “oh-for-17?” The senior all-stater knew better than that — she’d made a 3 herself in the second quarter — but it certainly felt like 0-for-all-night.

The game was decided in one four-minute stretch, a 10-0 run by the Potters. Late in the first half, tied at 17-all, Krupa’s 3-pointer from the top of the key and her little mid-range jumper moved Morton to a 22-17 lead at intermission. Early in the third, Addy Engel’s driving layup followed Lamprecht’s 3 from the left corner to make it 27-17.

With Rock Island content to dribble/pass/stand, the Potters’ lead grew to 39-23 with three minutes to play.

I felt sleepy.

I did stay awake long enough to make notes on my favorite moment of the night. It came late. A Rock Island dribbler fell down. No referee called anything. Had she been tripped by a Potter? Though I was at the far end of the building, I heard the Rock lsland dribbler go, “OOOPS.” A referee took that as circumstantial evidence that she had fallen down all by her ownself. He called traveling. (Though it’s possible, I guess, that she fell when the floor started funhouse-sliding around.)

Krupa led Morton’s scoring with 19. Addy Engel had 10, Lamprecht 6, Paige Griffin and Maggie Hobson 4 each, Izzy Hutchinson 3, and Ellie VanMeenen 2.

Morton’s semifinal opponent tomorrow night at 7 at Normal Community will be #4 seed Geneseo, a 51-48 winner over Springfield.

The Potters’ head coach, Bob Becker, remained at home recovering from Covid-19.

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