PLANO — The Ottawa boys basketball team and John Carroll did something not many teams and players can scratch off of a basketball bucket list.
In the 50 years Plano has opened its gym doors for the Plano Christmas Classic, only four teams have won two or more consecutive tournaments.
Ottawa became the fourth with its 68-50 win over Morris in Monday’s championship game to repeat as the king of the holiday tournament.
The repeating was twice as nice as senior John Carroll claimed his second straight Classic MVP plaque.
“It’s a crazy feeling. Only a few teams have done it. It’s unbelievable,” said Carroll, who heard MVP chants at the free throw line and was hailed by the Ottawa fans when he was subbed out at the end of the game. “I thank my teammates for getting me the ball when I was open.”
Each of the four area teams in the tournament won Monday as Mendota won the 11th-place game against Rockford Christian 42-35, St. Bede took the 15th-place game against Lisle 51-50 and Princeton defeated Wilmington 55-39 in the 23rd-place game.
No. 1 Ottawa 68, No. 6 Morris 50
After the first quarter featured six lead changes and four ties, the Pirates looked to expand on their 16-14 lead entering the second quarter.
Carroll rose to the task.
After scoring nine points in the first quarter, he scored 12 in the second quarter to help Ottawa outscore Morris 21-7 in the quarter.
The Pirates led 37-21 at the intermission.
“John had a real good focus and offensive mentality tonight,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “He was special on the offensive end tonight. Whenever Morris would make a run at us, he put in one bucket after another.”
The senior, who scored a game-high 38 points, then took the lead over the opposing team with the first basket in the second half as he swished a 3-pointer to give himself 24 points compared to the Redskins’ 21.
Morris (8-2) caught and passed Carroll, but doing the same to the Pirates (11-1) was another challenge.
The next four baskets after Carroll’s 3-pointer were credited to the Redskins as they went on an 8-0 run before Cooper called a timeout.
The stoppage slowed down the run, but Morris was able to cut the lead to 51-42 with its first bucket of the fourth quarter.
“Our full-court pressure took them out of their sets a little bit, but that’s tough to sustain for 16 minutes, especially against their experienced guards,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “We were down 18 Saturday (against Burlington Central). We came back in the second half and I think that took a little bit out of us.
“There is the thought that you can do it again, but Ottawa is a different caliber team.”
Ottawa demonstrated its offensive prowess once again as it went on a 15-3 run during a 4 ½-minute span.
The run included an inside bucket from senior forward Jacob Draper, two layups from sophomore Isaac Gassman off assists from Chase Hill and Carroll and nine more points from Carroll.
“I just wanted to win it for the seniors,” said Gassman, who was Ottawa’s second-leading scorer with 15 points. “I knew it meant a lot to them last year and they had a bunch of fun. I just tried to contribute to it.”
Gassman also was selected to the all-tournament team with Carroll.
Once the run was over, the Pirates had rebuilt the lead to 66-45 and then coasted until the final buzzer blew to solidify the victory.
In a special gesture, the Pirates negated putting their fingers on the trophy first to let Aurora Christian’s Jonathan Harell, who lost his brother in a car accident on Friday, accept the trophy and celebrate with Ottawa.
The repeat puts Ottawa in the realm of legendary teams. The only other teams to repeat as Classic champions are Marmion (1974 and ’75) — which qualified for state in 1975-76 — Bureau Valley (2000 and ’01) — which placed third in Class A those years — and Seneca (2004, 05, 06), which placed third in Class A in 2004-05 and won the Class A state title in 2005-06.
“I think it shows a lot of maturity and professionalism on our kids part, in terms of keeping the focus for this whole week, in terms of wanting to do something that’s only the (fourth) time in the history of this tournament it’s been done,” Cooper said. “Our kids were very, very good all week in terms of their approach toward each game.”
No. 9 Mendota 42, Rockford Christian 35
The Trojans didn’t shoot well from the field — making 13-of-50 shots — but made up for it with 16 made free throws and stingy defense.
With a 34-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Trojans only allowed RC two points while MHS put eight on the scoreboard.
James Carroll, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored a game-high 14 points, while Ryan Reeder added 12 points and Sam Bowne grabbed 16 rebounds.
No. 15 St. Bede 51, Lisle 50
Sophomore Jarret Olson helped his all-tournament selection with his 24-point performance in the 15th-place game against Lisle.
St. Bede had a 36-32 lead heading into the final eight minutes but Lisle battled until the end, outscoring the Bruins 18-15 in the fourth.
However, Olson and company had just enough offense to pull out the win.
Olson knocked down five 3-pointers and was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. Andrew Pyszka and Jack Brady had seven points apiece.
Princeton 55, Wilmington 39
The Tigers were down by two points after the first quarter, but rallied with a 19-9 surge in the second quarter to take a lead it never relinquished.
PHS outscored the Wildcats 16-8 in the third quarter.
Garrett Duffin led the Tigers with 16 points and Tyler Clark scored 13 points.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.