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Ottawa junior Cassidy Rice keeps a ball from going out of bounds Tuesday during the Lady Pirates’ 44-33 loss to Morton in a Class 3A Washington Sectional semifinal. Rice finished with team highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Ottawa, which closes the season 23-6. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
Ottawa senior Jaleesa Kindred (No. 23) battles Morton senior Sarah Livingston for a rebound during the Lady Pirates’ 44-33 loss to the Lady Potters in a Class 3A Washington Sectional semifinal. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
WASHINGTON — With 5:42 left in the third quarter Tuesday night, Ottawa junior Catie Carlson sank a 3-pointer to pull her team within seven points of Class 3A No. 9-ranked Morton.
At that point, the Lady Pirates were feeling pretty good.
“The entire game we thought we were still in it, but that just lit a spark,” Ottawa junior Cassidy Rice said. Unfortunately for the Lady Pirates, Morton senior and University of Illinois signee Sarah Livingston quickly extinguished it.
Livingston scored her team’s final nine points of the third quarter while Ottawa failed to score again in the period to propel the Lady Potters to a 44-33 win in a Class 3A Washington Sectional semifinal.
“We scratched and clawed and did everything we could,” Ottawa coach Mike Cooper said. “When it got right down to the end, there was just a little bit too much Sarah Livingston. Even though I thought we played her hard and we tried to double her when we could, she still has 4-5 inches on our biggest kid. I think that ultimately made the difference.”
Carlson’s 3-pointer made it a 27-20 Morton lead, but Livingston hit 3-of-4 free throws over the next two Lady Potter possessions to push the lead back to double digits.
The 6-foot-2 Livingston then drained a 3-pointer of her own on Morton’s next possession and made three more free throws in the third quarter to send the Lady Potters to the fourth up 36-20.
“She’s tough,” Rice said. “She’s very good.”
The Lady Pirates had their best scoring quarter in the fourth as they recorded 13 points, but they never managed to get closer than 11 points as Morton got a jumper from junior Abbie Cox and 6-of-6 free throws in the final 3:59.
“They only had two baskets in the second half. Everything else was free throws,” Cooper said. “Give them credit, they made their free throws when they had to. That was probably the other key to the game is they made enough free throws to keep us (11-16) points behind. We just could never get that next basket (to pull within single digits).”
The Lady Potter defense made it tough for Ottawa all game.
The Lady Pirates shot just 27.5 percent from the floor (14-of-51), including 23.7 percent through the first three quarters (9-of-38).
“The first half we missed four driving layups we should have made. That was key in the first half,” said Cooper, whose team trailed 27-17 at halftime. “The second half I didn’t think we got as many good looks. They’re just awfully good defensively.”
The Lady Potters also forced Ottawa away from its defensive game plan.
Early on, the Lady Pirates doubled Livingston and tried to dig the ball when she received it down low, but Cox drained two 3-pointers in the first half and recorded a three-point play.
“(Cox) came out and hit those shots early, and it forced us to do something different because we did a good job on Livingston the first quarter playing a triangle and two,” Cooper said. “But then once (Cox) started hitting some shots, it forced us to come out and start guarding her, which opened it up for Sarah a little bit.”
Livingston finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Cox added 14 points for Morton (28-4).
Rice led the Lady Pirates with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Carlson finished with 10 points.
Ottawa closes the season with a 23-6 record.
“We met like every goal we had,” Rice said. “The seniors were really good leaders for us this year. Overall, I’m really proud of how we did this season.”
Tuesday’s loss marked the end of the prep careers of Ottawa seniors Lindsey Greene, Jaleesa Kindred, Mady Toynton, Jayna Crabb and Kiley Johnson.
The Lady Pirates return several key players next season, including Tuesday starters Carlson and Jasmin Bailey along with Rice.
“It’s going to be fun next year,” Rice said. “We all know what it’s like now since all of our juniors played a lot.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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