The newly ranked No.1 team in Class 3A started its first week as the top team in the state in style, as No. 1 Morton defeated Washington 49-31 Tuesday night in a Mid-Illini Conference game.

The Lady Potters (16-1, 7-0) finished the first round of Mid-Illini play undefeated in the conference.

Josi Becker and Tenley Dowell each scored 14 points to lead Morton.

“(Dowell) has been in double figures just about every game for us this season,” Morton coach Bob Becker said. “She’s an all-state caliber player.  (Becker) has been gaining confidence shooting the ball, so that’s good to see.”

Morton jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, despite poor shooting from the field in the first half. 

The Lady Potters outscored Washington 10-4 in the first quarter.

Washington (5-9, 1-5) played its best quarter in the second, outscoring Morton 14-13 for a 23-14 Potters lead at the break.

“I thought we were taking good shots (in the first half), but we were missing a lot of those good shots,” Becker said. “That happens sometimes. We are a perimeter team and we know we will eventually get it going.”

Washington’s defense played a factor, contesting shots and controlling defensive rebounds.

“Morton is a great team,” Washington coach Kim Holdenrid said. “At times (Morton) can shoot lights out, and defensively we played a great first half.”

Over the last two quarters, the Potters outscored the Panthers 26-17 to earn an 18-point victory.

Becker went 4-for-4 from 3-point land, with two triples coming in each half. 

Morton sank nine 3-pointers as a team in the game.

“When Morton hits one three, it seems like it leads to five,” said Holdenrid. “You can’t doubt our effort and I always tell our girls to give it their all.”

The Lady Panthers struggled scoring the basketball.

Washington scored less than ten points in first, third and fourth quarters.

“Offensively we were flat-footed,” said Holdenrid. “We want to run a motion offense, and when we are just standing in one place, it doesn’t work very well.”

Lily Harlan led Washington in scoring with ten points. 

Morton senior Brandi Bisping returned to action after missing the previous four contests with illness (mono).

Bisping scored one point in her return.

“It’s nice to have Bisping back, and she will knock some rust off,” Becker said. “It’s going to take a little bit to ease her into action. I probably played her two or three more minutes than she needed to, but she’s a competitor and she wants to play.”

With seven more games to play in the Mid-Illini season, Morton is undefeated in conference play and looking to keep momentum.

“We expect an awful amount from (the girls) and they are probably the most consistently excellent team there is,” said Becker. “We came on the road and Washington is playing its best basketball right now, so it is nice to get the win.“