Washington, Morton to meet for regional title

Bryan Veginski

The Washington boys basketball team is on a drive for five.

The Panthers look for their fifth regional title in a row at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 3A regional they are hosting this year.

Morton is the opponent in the regional final for the second straight season.

At stake is a berth in Tuesday's Rock Island Sectional semifinal against the Richwoods Regional champion.

Washington (22-3) won twice in Mid-Illini Conference play against Morton (15-11), but both games were competitive.

The Panthers were victorious Jan. 20 at Torry Gymnasium, 51-43, and Feb. 24 at the Potterdome, 57-47.

Washington junior post Colton Underwood scored a combined 29 points in the previous matchups with Morton.

Senior point guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards burned the Potters for 15 fourth-quarter points in the second contest as part of a game-high 23.

In the regional semifinals, the top-seeded Panthers drubbed Pontiac Tuesday, 67-46, while No. 2 seed Morton won Wednesday against Metamora, 48-41.

Washington claimed a 64-47 decision in the regional championship last year against the Potters in East Peoria.

Washington was ranked No. 3 in the Feb. 25 Associated Press Class 3A state poll and earned its fifth consecutive Mid-Illini title. The Panthers have won 14 straight games and are perfect in the 2009 portion of their campaign.

The Panther Den is likely to be fully-charged in Washington's final appearance this winter on its home floor.