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Building blocks in place for Morton girls hoops

RIVERSIDE – Morton’s girls basketball team showed both its inexperience and its talent this season.

The Mustangs finished a 15-16 season with a 61-41 loss to Kenwood in a regional semifinal at Riverside Brookfield on Feb. 18. The day before, Morton defeated Juarez 64-26 in the playoff opener.

It marked the end of a season that came with a lot of question marks. The team had to replace the top two leading scorers from last year and started just one senior, so a record just under .500 is nothing to be ashamed of.

“I told them 15-16 is nothing to be disappointed in,” coach Joe Maietta said. “You set the bar and you go on from there. You have to put the work in. If they want to compete at this level and get to a regional final, win a regional, I told them it’s all there for them. Talent-wise, key players are all back [next year]. We’re going to miss some toughness with some of the seniors.”

Two sophomores, Maryam Wilcher and Chloe Maietta, were all-conference picks in the West Suburban Gold. Wilcher averaged around 14 points per game and Maietta was at around 10 per game.

Those two will be key to the future of the team, but sophomore center Jasmine Morris and junior forward Janeka Stokes will also bring starting experience back next year.

Against Kenwood, Morton stayed close early, but the Broncos closed the half on a 16-5 run to lead 32-18 at the break. The Mustangs couldn’t get back within single digits the rest of the game, but 38 of the team’s 41 points were scored by players expected to be returners.

“We break a press once and then we forget what we did to break it and we let that bother us,” Joe Maietta said. “We came in loose, ready to play. I thought that showed. A couple early nervous turnovers, but we still came back and we still battled. We’ve got to get stronger. We’ve got to get better on the boards and we will.”

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