BLOOMINGTON – Morton freshman Katie Krupa displayed a lot of maturity in the closing seconds of the State Farm Holiday Classic large-school girls third-place game against Richwoods on Saturday.

With 5.7 seconds left in regulation, the 6-foot-1 forward hit two free throws to provide Morton with the winning points in a 43-42 decision over the Knights at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.

"I think our freshman grew up another year today," Potters coach Bob Becker said. "She had a great game. She made two clutch free throws and battled a first-team all-stater the whole game."

Krupa was up against 6-2 Richwoods senior Camryn Taylor, and both post players finished with 12 points.

"I knew it was Richwoods, and I wanted to beat them so bad," Krupa said. "But on those last free throws, honestly, there was not a lot of nerves there.

"I just focused on my arc. The day before, my dad and I were shooting free throws, and mine needed arc because they were not going in."

The Potters (15-2), however, needed to rally after squandering a 16-point fourth quarter lead against the defending Class 3A state champion Knights.

Richwoods (18-2), ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, lost its second straight game, but rallied to take a 42-41 lead with 29 seconds left in the game after a pair of baskets by Tianna Johnson (16 points).

"Our kids showed a lot of heart, but we haven’t been very good the last two days," Richwoods coach Todd Hursey said. "We haven’t been very good at the free throw line or from the field."

The Potters jumped out to an early 8-1 lead, but needed a late trey from Maddy Becker and two free throws from Tenley Dowell (17 points) to take a 21-17 lead at the break.

A layup by Jaida McCloud pulled Richwoods to within 24-22 with 5:16 left in the third quarter. Then Morton went on a 14-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Maddy Becker at the third-quarter buzzer and a trey by Lindsey Dullard to open the fourth.

The Potters had a 38-22 lead with 7:27 left in the game.

The Knights outscored the Potters 20-5 the rest of the way, but went just 3-for-8 on free throws in the fourth quarter and 9-for-19 for the game.

"Our free throws have been horrible the last two days," Hursey said. "We were 8-for-18 yesterday (a 49-44 loss to Rock Island). You’re not going to win good, close basketball games when you’re shooting that poorly."

Taylor (nine boards, five blocks), a Marquette signee, scored six of the Richwoods points in the rally, and the Knights took advantage of three Morton turnovers and some missed free throws in the spurt.

"We played with some control for the longest time, and then their backs were against the wall," Becker said. "To Richwoods’ credit, they made plays. I don’t know if panic is the right word, but we turned the ball over a few times and missed some shots.

"It seemed like when we missed and didn’t score, they went down and scored every time. And all of a sudden, they’ve got a one-point lead. But I don’t expect it to be a runaway ever with them."

The Knights could have stretched their lead, but junior guard Nia Williams, who was wide open under the Richwoods basket, could not handle a pass from a teammate, which resulted in a turnover with 29 seconds left.

The Knights got a break when Dowell missed the front end of a one-and-bonus, and the rebound went to Richwoods’ Uniquek Johnson.

But the Knights did not score on the next possession, and Krupa was fouled by Taylor to set up the two winning free throws.

A desperation 3-point attempt by Williams bounced off the backboard and off the rim as time expired.

Becker said it was a big win for the Potters, who won the three Class 3A state titles before the Knights claimed the one last season.

Richwoods beat Morton in the sectional finals last season with a 49-29 win, and then beat the Potters, 64-61, in double-overtime earlier this season.

"You know for a fact that you can beat Richwoods, because we just did," Becker said. "We had them the first time, and didn’t finish them off. But our kids know for sure, and now they know for sure on the other side that they can be beat by Morton."

Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.