HERSCHER — Talk about setting a tone for a game.
Sparked by a relentless, hustling defense Monday, the Morris girls basketball team did not allow Prairie Central to take a shot for more than two minutes at the start of the game and nearly shut the Hawks out in the first quarter en route to a 48-35 win in the Class 3A Herscher Regional.
Morris forced 11 Prairie Central turnovers in the first quarter, including the first four Hawks possessions. Prairie Central did not take its first shot until 5:42 remained in the first quarter and Morris already had a 6-0 lead. The Morris advantage swelled to 14-0 late in the first quarter before Prairie Central finally scored on a basket by Elly Haberkorn with :07 left.
"We really hustled on defense," Morris coach Kate Carey said. "It would have been nice to get that shutout in the first quarter, but we did a good job defensively all night."
With the Morris defense doing its thing, the offense in the first half had a different leader than normal. Mya Shannon, the school's all-time leading scorer who recently scored her 1,500th career point, was limited to six points in the first half, all in the first quarter. In the second quarter, junior Carli Foddrill took over, scoring eight points and finishing the first half with all 10 of her points for the game. Included in her second-quarter outburst were a pair of three-pointers.
"Carli did a nice job for us," Carey said. "It is nice to have that consistent threat from the outside."
Prairie Central heated up a bit in the second quarter, cutting the 14-2 lead at the end of the first to 24-16 at halftime.
The Hawks then scored the first two points of the second half to make it 24-18 before Shannon took things over. She scored 14 of Morris' 17 points in the third quarter and helped spark the defense which limited Prairie Central to just eight points in the period to help Morris to a 41-24 lead entering the fourth. Shannon finished with a game-high 26 points.
With starting post player Gigi Corban in foul trouble much of the night, the Redskins got solid minutes from sophomore Hayley Aukland, who had three points and four rebounds.
"It's kind of weird to say that Mya had an off night and she ends up with 26," Carey said. "But even if her shooting is a little off, she will get points either off of defense or going to the basket and getting fouled.
"Hayley did a nice job. She really goes out there and works hard and goes after every loose ball and rebound."
For Shannon, it all starts without the ball.
"Our focus is always on defense," she said. "It was fun playing tonight. It would have been nice to get a shutout in the first quarter, but holding them to two is pretty good, too. We just need to keep it up."
Morris advanced to take on Herscher in the regional semifinal Tuesday.