MORRIS — The La Salle-Peru girls basketball team played came out strong after halftime Friday and pulled away for a 53-26 victory over Morris in the first game of an Interstate Eight Conference doubleheader Friday.
The L-P boys team rallied late to force overtime but fell 63-61.
La Salle-Peru 53, Morris 26
Morris kept things relatively close in the first half with La Salle-Peru.
To start the second half, though, it was all Lady Cavaliers as La Salle-Peru got back-to-back 3-pointers from Emma Happ and Brooklyn Ficek to start the third quarter.
Those baskets helped the Lady Cavs extend their lead from 14 points at halftime to 28 points at the end of the third quarter en route to a 53-26 victory.
“We came out a little lackadaisical in the first half,” L-P coach Hollis Vickery said. “We talked at halftime about playing with more energy, and we were able to do that in the second half. We hit a couple of 3-pointers right off the bat and got our energy going.
“We had had two tough battles in our last two games, so it was nice to come out and play with intensity tonight.”
In the first half, La Salle-Peru used the inside game of 6-foot-2 Rhiannon Skoog to keep a pesky Morris team at bay.
Skoog had eight of her 10 first-half points in the second quarter as the Lady Cavs opened up a lead that was 12-7 at the end of the first quarter to 25-11 at halftime.
Skoog finished with a team-leading 13 points, while Lauren Phillips scored 10 and Happ added eight.
“It was nice to see that balance,” Vickery said. “We have to have all five players who are on the floor playing with a lot of energy. When we do that, we can be pretty good. We are not very good when we are standing around.”
Morris scored the first three points of the fourth quarter before Jaclyn Brucki scored for La Salle-Peru and Emma Garretson added a free throw.
Another free throw by Angela Smudzinski gave the Lady Cavs a 45-19 lead before Morris’ Faith Ritter hit her second 3-pointer in a row to pull to within 45-22.
Cynthia Gonzalez answered with a 3-pointer of her own — the last of eight treys on the evening for L-P — to make it 48-22.
La Salle-Peru got a basket from Garretson and a three-pint play by Sarah Peters to cap the scoring.
“It was a good win for us, especially with the energy we played with,” Vickery said. “Give credit to (Morris coach) Luke (Windy) and his girls. They played hard the whole way.”
Morris 63, La Salle-Peru 61
Early in the fourth quarter, it looked like Morris was in control in the boys half of the boys/girls Interstate Eight Conference doubleheader with La Salle-Peru.
The Redskins led the Cavaliers 40-29 entering the fourth, and a basket by Patrick McPherson gave Morris a 42-29 lead with a little more than seven minutes to play.
For the second time in the game, though, La Salle-Peru staged a furious rally to tighten things up, eventually forcing overtime before falling 63-61.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers cut a 21-5 Morris lead to 24-21 just before halftime before Morris’ Sam Williams scored on a inbounds play with a second left before intermission.
In the fourth, La Salle-Peru’s Jack Scheri scored on a drive and, after a Morris turnover, got fouled and made both free throws to cut the lead to 42-33.
A 3-pointer by Drake Weber cut it to 42-36 and another trey by Tyler Hartman trimmed the Morris lead to 42-39.
Morris got a bucket by McPherson to make it 44-39, but Weber hit another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 44-42.
Morris’ Colin Cummings, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit 1-of-2 free throws for a 45-42 Redskin lead before Alex Lenkaitis answered with a basket in the lane to make it 45-44 with 3:51 to play.
After McPherson (16 points) made a free throw, Lenkaitis made two free throws to tie it at 46-46 with 1:43 to go.
Cummings then converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 49-46 lead.
Lenkaitis then drove the lane to score and make it 49-48 before Brandon Phelps made a pair of free throws with 52.4 seconds left to put Morris ahead 51-48.
Scheri then drove and scored while being fouled and made his free throw to tie the game with 42.4 seconds left.
Morris tried to hold the ball for the last shot, but Lenkaitis stole it for L-P with 13.1 seconds left.
The Cavaliers were called for traveling with 4.5 seconds left and Morris’ last-second shot attempt at the buzzer went off the front of the rim.
In the extra period, Morris’ Jack Walker, who had only three points in regulation, scored the Redskins’ first eight points on a pair of free throws and back-to-back 3-pointers.
Michael Jereb answered for La Salle-Peru, scoring a pair of driving baskets and then hitting a 3-pointer to make the score 59-58 in favor of Morris.
McPherson then hit a pair of free throws with 59.9 seconds left and Lenkaitis went 1-of-2 from the line with 40.6 left.
Myle Johnston made 1-of-2 for Morris to give the Redskins a 62-59 lead and McPherson made 1-of-2 with 12.5 seconds left for a 63-59 Redskin edge.
Jereb, who led L-P with 17 points, scored on a putback before time expired.
“Give LaSalle-Peru a lot of credit,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “They never quit battling. They were able to take the ball to the basket on us all night, and that opened up their shooters.”