CICERO – Morton might be playing its best basketball of the season and just in time.
The Mustangs displayed arguably their best performance of the season in an utterly dominant 88-36 win against Addison Trail on Friday.
The highlights were plentiful in what was Morton’s ninth straight win. Among them were Weisner Perez scoring the Mustangs’ first 14 points, Luke Belcaster draining six first half 3-pointers and Antonio Haley dunking home an alley-oop thrown up by Mike Kadela.
“That was unbelievable,” coach Tony Martinucci said. “It was another level. It shocked us a little bit.”
Morton lost to Addison Trail 61-59 on Jan. 24 on a last-second finish. That was a big upset at the time, and ultimately cost the Mustangs the conference title. Morton finished one game behind Proviso East in the West Suburban Gold.
The Mustangs came out fired up for revenge Friday. The win against the Blazers was the ninth straight for Morton, dating back to that loss in Addison.
A big key to Morton’s hot start and recent good play was Belcaster’s shooting. The junior guard caught fire and helped Morton lead 30-13 after the first quarter.
“I think that if we can get somebody that can shoot from the outside like Luke, Weisner is hard to guard,” Martinucci said. “Everybody tries to double off a forward because everyone knows Greg [Carter] can shoot it and Jarvis [Cannon] is pretty decent, so if we can get one more guy we can get Weisner inside. That’s pretty good.”
Belcaster was a big-time scorer for the sophomore team that won conference last year.
He struggled to assert himself with varsity this winter. Friday’s crowd-thrilling show was the culmination of a stretch of quality play from Belcaster, who has emerged as the top guard off the bench.
“The seniors were getting me the ball and I was just hitting,” Belcaster said. “I haven’t been able to get off as many shots. It’s been a lot harder, but [Friday] I got them off.”
Martinucci credited Belcaster’s better defensive play as helping him to get more into the game on the offensive end.
“I think he had to adjust to the speed of the game a little bit,” Martinucci said. “The last few games he’s kind of adjusted a little bit. Maybe because he’s playing defense that much better. Get in the game defensively and it will come.”
Morton next plays against York tonight in a WSC crossover. The Dukes are the top seed in the Bartlett sectional, while Morton is the No. 4 seed. The two teams could meet in a sectional semifinal.
Morton 88, Addison Trail 36
• Weisner Perez: 23 points
• Luke Belcaster: 18 points
• Jarvis Cannon: 11 points