Metamora in rhythm down stretch

Metamora celebrates a big play during a game against Pekin on Feb. 23.
Metamora celebrates a big play during a game against Pekin on Feb. 23. Photo by Josh Schwam.

Metamora girls basketball coach Brianna Morrow has prepped her team for success, and despite an abbreviated season with short rest, Morrow likes where her team is at down the final stretch.

The Redbirds (11-3, 10-3) are currently tied for second place in the Mid-Illini standings, and coming off two consecutive victories against rival Washington. 5-foot-11 junior forward Kayla Pacha scored 15 to power Metamora to a 50-19 win over the Panthers at Torry Gymnasium. Three days later, Metamora followed up with a 33-29 win behind 10 points from 5’9 sophomore Katy Ramage. The Redbirds will play Canton on Saturday to end the regular season.

“We are blessed to have such a deep bench. I like to keep the same starters, but we can easily rotate,” said Morrow. “We like to play fast, run the floor and get out to press. I have a lot of kids I can rotate in, so I would say we play a good 9-10 kids a night.”

Pacha, Ramage, Izzy VandeSchraaf, Grace Tyra, Katie Lalumander, Leah Yanko, Alyssa Russell, Sydney Beccue, Camryn Youngquist, Brooklyn Marshall, Layne Jackson, Ella Stivers, Elana Redgate and Alana Terry fill out the 14-player roster under coach Morrow.

Pacha, Terry, and Ramage are predominantly double-figure scorers. But Marshall, Lalumander, Russell, Tyra and VandeSchraaf can add a boost to the scoring column on any given night.

“Alyssa Russell got a little bit of time last year as a sophomore, but this year she has really been huge for us as a junior,” added Morrow. “She has been shooting the ball consistently, and can be really strong on the defensive end. She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes at the guard position.”

Coach Morrow knows she can rely on just about anyone on her team, and just like Russell, she likes the improvement out of Marshall, a 6’1 sophomore guard.

“(Marshall) didn’t get varsity time last year, and she has really improved this year. She has gotten stronger, and had some big games for us. Those two kids have been really nice additions,” Morrow said. “Leah Yanko didn’t get a lot of time last year either, but she is shooting the ball well for us and has stepped up big on the defensive end.”

Despite there not being a postseason to reach this season, Morrow and her team are still treating each game like a single-elimination tournament game. Next week, the Mid-Illini Conference tournament will begin and give the Redbirds that win-or-go home feeling that they desire.

“We don’t have a postseason and that is frustrating. But we are blessed to play in a conference that is really good,” added Morrow. “We are lucky to have played everyone twice, but making that postseason run would have been nice. For our games to have been so competitive that is really exciting for our kids, and for our seniors.”

John Komosa can be reached at Follow on Twitter @Jkom91.

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