Panthers' rally falls short
Winnebago tops Pinckneyville, 67-63; Morrissey scores 29 in win
PEORIA – The Pinckneyville Panthers ran into the best big man that they had faced this season and things didn't go well in the paint.

Six-foot-nine senior center Andrew Morrissey proved to be too much inside for Coach Bob Waggoner's club.

Morrissey scored all around the basket, hitting for 29-points while dragging in 16-rebounds as he led his Indians into the state championship game with a 67-63 win Friday night over the Panthers in the 2A semifinals at Carver Arena.

Despite a desperation rally in the fourth quarter, the Panthers fell to 31-4 on the season and into Saturday's third place game.

“We kept telling our kids in the timeouts, it was going to be close, it was going to be right down to the wire. We knew it was going to be a real tough game. We were able to get the lead and hang on,” said Winnebago head coach Joe Murphy. “At this stage of the game, nobody gives up. We were bigger inside and Andrew did a nice job in the post.”

The Panthers were led by sophomore Dawson Yates with 16-points while seniors JC Moll and Grant Jausel ended up with 14-points each.

In a game that featured major runs, the Indians got to an 11-point lead with a 16-4 third quarter closing run that gave Winnebago a 51-42 advantage.

Pinckneyville rallied but couldn't get back the lead although they had two chances to tie the game in the final seconds.

Both Moll and 6-foot-6 senior center Tanner Spihlmann had good looks at 3-point shots that either would have evened the score.

But neither found that mark as Winnebago's Brennan Burkhart grabbed the rebound and was fouled with just :05.1 remaining.

He hit 1-of-2 foul shots to put the game out of reach as last second shot by Moll missed the mark at the horn.

“In the fourth quarter we picked up our press a little bit and got them to play a little bit faster. But the big factor they had was the big kid (Morrissey) inside that could always get it into to and get points from him at different times whenever they needed it,” said Coach Waggoner. “Foul trouble (Luke) put us on heels a little bit in the beginning. I thought 43 (Ty Waller) did a real good job of being aggressive off the drive, it threw our rotation off of what we wanted to do. They were very aggressive off the bounce in the first half. There was a big foul difference in the first half. It took us out of our ability to pressure the ball as much as we would like.”

Winnebago also got 14-points from 5-foot-10 senior Kenzell Jones and 10-points from 6-foot-2 senior guard Waller.

The Panthers struggled shooting the ball on the night, hitting just 23-of-58 overall (39.7 percent) and they were just 4-of-18 from the 3-point line.

The Indians hit 25-of-50 with most of the damage coming from Morrissey doing the damage inside.

He connected on 11-of-18 from the floor with nearly all of the shots coming in the paint.

Pinckneyville got going early with an 8-2 run for a 10-6 lead with 4:09 left in the first half.

Moll connected for his first 3-pointer in the run and Yates made a nice cut to the basket for points.

Moll scored twice more near the end of the frame and Jausel got to the rim to close the scoring at 16-12.

Jones got the Indians back on top near the end of the half as he got free for a pair of 3-pointers and Morrissey converted twice in the paint.

When Jones dropped his second bomb, Winnebago had a 27-25 lead.

Yates and Jones traded buckets to close the half with the Indians up 29-27.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Morrissey got his best personal run going in the third quarter.

He hit for 12-points, including eight-consecutive as Winnebago took its largest advantage.

Morrissey finished around the basket three times and added a pair of free throws.

The 6-foot-9 big man added a nice fade away shot from about 10-feet.

“We kept reminding them, get the ball into Andrew (Morrissey),” said Coach Murphy. “He missed that one shot in the fourth quarter that made me a little nervous, but we said, 'keep going back to him, he'll make the next one.' He's going to graduate, we aren't going to have him next year, we have to advantage of him while we have him.”

Waller closed the quarter with a drive to the basket as Winnebago lead 51-42 at the end of the quarter.

“We had great looks all night. I thought we did great attacking, got the ball to the rim, we had some great pull-ups from the beginning to the end. We had to struggle to get everything we were getting,” said Coach Waggoner. “The one thing they had was the ability to dump the ball in there and get an easy one. He's probably the best post we've faced.”

Coach Waggoner's team showed the character that made them the team that got to Peoria as they rallied late to give themselves a chance at the end.

Pinckneyville forced three early turnovers and began their comeback attempt with an 11-2 run.

Moll, Spihlmann and Luke all converted with Luke finishing a three-point play while being fouled on a fast break.

However each rally that the Panthers produced fell short in the fourth quarter.

Spihlmann nailed a long 3-pointer to close the gap to just 62-61 with :49 left.

But Morrissey came up with a big offensive rebound and his follow up shot at :29 remaining.

Two free throws by Yates followed by a pair from Waller set the stage for one last Panther shot at a tie.

But both Moll and Spihlmann's treys missed the mark.

Pinckneyville will play loser of the Chicago Orr/Bloomington Central Catholic game that was played immediately following the Pinckneyville loss.

2A State Semifinals
Winnebago (67) – Sager 3 0 0-1 6, Williams 0 1 1-2 4, Morrissey 11 0 7-8 29, Jones 4 2 0-0 14, Waller 3 0 4-4 10, Bryden 0 0 0-0 0, Burkhart 1 0 2-4 4, Inglima 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-22, 3FG-3, FT-14-19, PF-16.

Pinckneyville (63)
– Luke 2 0 2-3 6, Rice 0 0 2-2 2, Moll 4 2 0-0 14, Yates 7 0 2-2 16, Jausel 5 0 4-7 14, Spihlmann 1 2 3-4 11, Bartnicki 0 0 0-0 0, Kitchen 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-19, 3FG-4, FT-13-18, PF-18.

Fouled Out
– Luke - Pinckneyville.
Technical Fouls
– None.