BERWYN – Morton’s Elliso Gonzalez received a refresher course on his past history against Downers Grove South before their game Jan. 10.
As a freshman, Gonzalez had a career performance in a home game against the Mustangs.
“[The coaches] told me I dropped 38 [points] on them last year, and I was like, ‘I know,’ ’’ Gonzalez said.
This time, Gonzalez required a few extra minutes to get warmed up before putting on another sizzling shooting show against the Mustangs. Gonzalez buried five 3-pointers in the second quarter to finish with 27 points and Orlando Cervantes added 17 points as Morton pulled out an 81-73 overtime victory in West Suburban Gold action.
Gonzalez cooled off in the second half, but his strong play early in the game was a key factor for Morton (9-4, 2-1).
“When my first shot hit, I felt today was going to be a good day and I kept on going,” Gonzalez said. “I felt I shot better today than last year’s game because my shots came in better moments. Last year, I just jacked it up, but my teammates found me open today to help us get a lead.”
Downers Grove South coach Kris Olson praised Gonzalez for finding the open spots, especially in the first half.
“I thought he had great looks and they did a great job screening for him and our guys got caught in some screens and miscommunication in our zone and left him wide open,” Olson said.
When Gonzalez hits his 3-pointers, like he did against Downers South, Morton is an even tougher team to defend. Point guard Jesus Perez (12 points), sharpshooting guard Manny Ramirez (two 3-pointers) and Cervantes pose problems for opponents with their driving and shooting ability.
But 6-foot-4 senior center Trenton Nadolski might be the X-factor in Morton’s quest to rise up the conference standings. He nailed two 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a buzzer beater from the wing, to put an added strain on Downers South’s perimeter defense.
Nadolski ended with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“Our guards are always a threat,” Nadolski said. “We feel we have one of the best guard sets in the conference, if not the best. Jesus is a one-man press breaker and Manny can shoot the ball and Orlando can really play. I hit a few 3s at the beginning, so they focused on me and that left Elliso wide open. This was a good team.”
Downers South (2-13, 1-3) played better than its record would indicate at this point of the season.
Morton led for most of the game before Angelo Ognianov drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68-68 with 31 seconds remaining in regulation.
Perez opened the overtime with a three-point play, and Downers South missed eight shots.
Lukian King paced the visitors with 16 points and nine rebounds, Ognianov had 14 points and Michael Rheintgen added 12 points.
Olson said his team showed toughness and is on the brink of a breakout.
“I love their effort and it will start to win some games for us,” Olson said.