“The Baby!”

Morton’s Lady Potters 48, Dunlap 30

Declan Rush was at a basketball game tonight for the first time in his life, and the question is, what in the world took so long? He is, after all, nine and a half months old.

Yes, the Potters played tonight at Dunlap. They won easy. And I’ll get to that. But right now, I’m gonna write about the baby.

Those darling little Nike shoes!

That “Morton” shirt!

There I was, flipping pages of a notebook, when Brooke Rush, the Potters’ all-time leading scorer as Brooke Bisping, asked, “Want to hold him?”

Oh my goodness, Brooke, I want to KEEP him!

After the game, Declan set foot on a basketball court for the first time. He set both feet on the court. And both hands. All the teenage Potters gathered to watch Declan crawl the baseline. Brooke had been the team’s assistant coach until motherhood and Covid intervened. Done working the baseline, Declan made a turn into the paint, maybe looking for a pass from mommy.

That baby is impossibly cute, exactly what we’d expect from a child with Brooke the mother and Tommy Rush the father, and, yes, I have now committed cuteness overload, and I will get to the basketball game and say the Potters were OK but nowhere near Declan in the cuteness department.

They were OK for 14 minutes, good enough to go on a 28-2 run that suggested they finally had achieved the consistent excellence that coach Bob Becker preaches — except, no, they hadn’t done that at all. Though playing with its leading scorer on the bench with an ankle injury, Dunlap used a full-court press to create a run of its own. Making three steals before Morton could get the ball across the mid-court line, Dunlap outscored the careless-with-the-ball Potters, 12-0, in five minutes.

What should have been a 40-point lead for the Potters — they once led, 36-9 — dwindled to a 13-point lead with two minutes to play.

“At times we played at a high level,” Becker said, “but other times we lacked focus and execution and intensity. It was disheartening.”

In that 28-2 run, six Potters scored. They scored on mid-range jumpers, on put-backs, on transition fast breaks, and on four 3-pointers. Inside that long run, by the way, Dunlap was shut out in the second quarter, 16-0, which was — maybe Declan even thought this — less a tribute to the Potters’ defense than evidence of Dunlap’s mediocrity with the ball in hand.

The victory raised Morton’s record to 16-2 (7-1 in the Mid-Illini Conference). Dunlap is now 9-11 and 4-4.

For the 16th time, Katie Krupa led Morton’s scoring. She had 21 points, every rebound she wanted, and enough blocked shots to discourage anyone wandering into the paint. Maggie Hobson, back from Covid, had 7 points, Tatym Lamprecht 6, Izzy Hutchinson 5, Ellie VanMeenen 4, Paige Griffin 3, Graci Junis 2.

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