Want to beat the Morton girls basketball team? You've got to play well for four quarters.

"We had one good quarter," Pekin coach Becky Fulkerson said Saturday night after the Potters defeated the Dragons 72-36 at the Potterdome in a Mid-Illini Conference game.

Pekin's good quarter was the second, when the Dragons (5-5, 1-3) played the three-time defending Class 3A state champions to a 12-12 standoff.

"We had too many turnovers (29) during the game and we gave up too way many three-point baskets (11)," Fulkerson said. "You saw what happened when we pressured their shots in the second quarter."

Morton shot just 4-for-16 from the field in the second quarter including 2-for-8 on three-pointers.

Still, the Potters (9-1, 4-0) were ahead 36-23 at halftime.
They made the game a rout with a 20-2 explosion in the third quarter that gave them a 56-25 lead heading into the final quarter.

Morton scored 20 straight points in the third quarter before Pekin's Maddy Cash made a pair of free throws. Pekin had 13 turnovers in the quarter.

"I anticipated we'd have a good night because we've had good practices (since a 55-40 win Tuesday over Dunlap)," said Morton coach Bob Becker. "Our defense set the tone against Pekin, and we shared the ball on offense. That's important because we have several girls who can make shots."

Indeed the Potters do.

Eleven of Morton's 13 players got into the scorebook Saturday, led by Tenley Dowell with 14 points. Josi Becker had 12 points, Lindsey Dullard had nine and Caylie Jones had eight. Eight Morton players made at least one 3-pointer.

The Potters shot 44 percent from the field (26-for-59) including 11-for-30 on triples. They committed just five turnovers, 24 less than Pekin.

Cash tossed in 14 points for the Dragons and displayed some grit when she came back into the game after falling hard on the court while going after a rebound early in the third quarter.

Taylor Goss tossed in seven points for the Dragons, who shot 40 percent from the field (12-for-30) but took 29 fewer shots than Morton.

Pekin took a 11-10 lead over Morton with 3:12 left in the first quarter on a triple by Cash.

The lead was short-lived.

The Potters made four straight triples before the quarter ended as part of an 18-point run that gave them a 28-11 lead early in the second quarter.

Pekin's dry spell finally ended when Natalie Righi scored on a put-back with 5:31 to go in the first half, but the damage was done.

"We'll see Morton again later this season (at home Jan. 27)," Fulkerson said. "Hopefully we'll be better prepared and tougher mentally."

Morton doesn't appear to be slowing down as it begins its quest for a fourth straight state title.

"We're 9-1 against a tough schedule," Becker said. "A lot of teams would have losses against the schedule we've played."

Morton fell 53-45 early this season to Peoria Richwoods.

Among the Potters' nine wins are victories over highly regarded Normal Community and Monroe (Wis.), which lost in the Wisconsin Division II state semifinals last year and is led by guard Sydney Hilliard, whose is attracting interest from Big Ten schools.

Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.