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Top 5 Morton winter sports highlights

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 9:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:51 p.m. CST
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(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Morton's Antario Simon passes the ball during a home regional semifinal game on March 4. The Mustangs enjoyed enormous crowd support throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

As the snow continues to melt, spring sports are starting to take center stage. Before they kick into full gear, here’s a last look back at the successes of the winter sports at Morton this past season.

1. Exciting boys basketball playoff run

The ending to the Morton boys basketball team’s season was heartbreaking for Morton fans, but every step of the Mustangs’ playoff journey was exciting.

It started with home wins against Glenbard West (86-61) and Conant (36-24) in the regional. Morton won its first regional title since 2009 in front of its boisterous home fans.

Then it was off to the sectional at Bartlett, where the Mustangs survived a triple overtime game to beat top sectional seed York 77-74 in a semifinal. Greg Carter made two free throws with no time on the clock at the end of the first overtime to keep Morton alive. Carter finished the game with 35 points.

Carter stayed hot in the sectional final by scoring 21 points in the first quarter. The Mustangs led by as many as 22 points against Glenbard North, but the Panthers came back and won in the final seconds, 84-81.

“We had our ups and downs, but we definitely came together as a team and grew real nicely,” junior Weisner Perez said. “The seniors, they’re going to be dearly missed. Hopefully we’ll get back here, if not farther.”

2. Regional title for girls bowling

In the first year of boys and girls bowling regional tournaments, as opposed to just sectionals and state, the Morton’s girls team took advantage and won a regional title.

Morton was first with a team score of 4,875, winning by more than 500. Adriana Mendoza and Jasmin Marquez both posted series of over 1,000.

The Mustangs were fifth at the sectional, one spot short of making the team’s second state appearance in three years.

3. Mustang fans come out in droves for boys basketball

Morton isn’t a school known for its fan support, but maybe that’s changing. The Mustangs brought bus loads of fans – literally – to the sectional playoff games to cheer on the boys basketball team during its memorable run.

The Mustangs had to wait until January 17 for their first home game, but once they started playing at home they enjoyed energetic crowds, culminating in big crowds for the playoffs. Morton filled the gym to capacity for the regional final, and coach Tony Martinucci credited the home fans with keeping his team in the game while Conant tried to slow the pace.

In the sectional at Bartlett, Morton had by far the most fans of the four teams. The school helped bus over fans to both sectional games, and hundreds of fans gave the opposition a good impression of Mustang nation.

“It was going all around school, ‘Go support the boys.’ We had about 15 fan buses [at the sectional final], I believe, so you can see it was a big difference,” Weisner Perez said.

4. Four Morton wrestlers advance to sectional

Morton wrestling enjoyed a winning year. The team had plenty of openings in its starting lineup but still managed to go 17-3 in dual matches and 4-2 in the West Suburban Gold.

In the postseason, four Mustangs advanced out of a tough Lyons Township regional. Donny DiNardo, Adrian Cardenas and Jesus Ceja were second in their weight classes while Kevion Anderson took third. None of the four advanced to state, but the team will have a strong base going forward.

“We had 10 new kids in our lineup this year,” coach Steve Eckert said. “Most of those kids were JV wrestlers and sophomores [last year]. To say that we were going to win 17 matches, to be 17-3 with 10 new starters in the lineup, I am very happy.”

5. Wilcher transfers, boosts girls basketball

The girls basketball team lost a lot of talent from last year’s squad. The top two leading scorers, Isza Gonzalez and Nene Velez, graduated, and other expected returners didn’t come back to the team.

However, sophomore Maryam Wilcher transferred to Morton after playing her freshman year on Trinity’s varsity team. She immediately became the team’s most talented player and led the team in scoring.

Despite a team with a lot of new faces and inexperienced players, Morton was able to go 15-16 overall and 6-6 in the West Suburban Gold in coach Joe Maietta’s first year. Wilcher and fellow sophomore guard Chloe Maietta will form the nucleus of the team over the next two seasons.

“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” coach Joe Maietta said. “Talent-wise, key players are all back [next year].”

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