Peoria Notre Dame 47
Lady Potters 17
There was a running clock of all things, the Potters already down by 30, when Tatym Lamprecht walked back onto the court. Her coach, Bob Becker, was sending his team’s three seniors in for the last seconds of their high school days. Lamprecht touched the corners of her eyes, touching away the tears, her face puffy and red with the night’s sad story.
I caught up to her maybe a half hour later, in a hallway outside the classroom that served as the Potters locker room this night. She was still blinking away tears.
“These two years,” she said, her voice a touch more than a whisper, “were the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”
And: “This team is the most friends I’ve ever had.”
Trying to talk some more: “Without this team . . . ”
Finally saying, “Before coming here, I never knew how much of a family basketball could be. At East Peoria, no one was close. Here, it’s like another family. I’m with these players, these friends, more than I’m with my own family. I never felt – I never knew – people could get this close through basketball.”
She came to Morton two seasons ago, a junior, a transfer from East Peoria High School, a transfer because her house burned down that summer and her mother found an apartment in Morton. She was moving from a perennial losing high school basketball program into one that had won four state championships in the previous five seasons.
That first year, as a junior, Lamprecht became the Potters’ second-leading scorer, a 3-point sharp-shooter complementing the incomparable Katie Krupa’s inside game. Together, Krupa and Lamprecht helped create a team that surprised us all by going 29-6 and finishing third in the state’s Class 3A tournament.
This year, the 5-foot-7 guard blossomed from a shy-stay-in-the-background extra into a team leader, a star who could win games Morton did not expect to win. Even at 19-11, it’s not much wrong to say these Potters overachieved.
What to say about tonight’s game, basketball-wise? As little as possible. One team was much the best, and that was evident even in the first four minutes. With PND up, 5-4, I made a note on the Potters’ side of my notebook: “OK, but can M ever score again?”
The answer was definitive. Down 11-5 after a quarter, 26-9 at the half, the Potters trailed 40-15 after three. This was beyond definitive. This was no contest. The Potters could do nothing well at either end. And who knew? Three weeks ago, building an eight-game winning streak, the Potters defeated PND on its own court, 49-46. Tonight, in the first round of the regional at Limestone High School, no contest. Season’s over.
“It’s like we went back in time,” Bob Becker said. “Like it was seven, eight weeks ago.” Back then, the Potters were in a five-game losing streak.
Abbey Pollard, another senior, said, “It was a hard game to watch.” Like Lamprecht, she thought it was a special team. “We’re all so close, it’s going to be so hard to be apart from everybody.”
Gaby Heer, the third senior, said, “This team was such a great group of girls. I’m going to miss them so much next year.”
I asked Tatym Lamprecht a writerly question. Five years from now, what will she think of her time with the Lady Potters? As she left the hallway to find her father waiting at midcourt, she said, “This team, I’ve never felt so much love. I will love this forever.”
Morton’s scoring tonight: Lamprecht 4, Addy Engel 4, Izzy Hutchinson 4, Pollard 3, Heer 2.