Morton College remembers Minnie Minoso (1925-2015)
March 3, 2015
Minnie Minoso was truly one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors.
The Chicago White Sox great, who died March 1 at the age of 90, would sign every autograph, shake every hand and talk to anyone who wanted to talk to him.
Mr. Minoso made annual appearances to Morton College’s Convocation ceremony to present the Morton College Foundation’s Chico Carrasquel Scholarship given to a deserving Panther baseball player. Mr. Minoso and Carrasquel were teammates on the White Sox in the 1950s.
Mr. Minoso’s last appearance to Morton College was on May 2, 2014. Since the baseball team had a game that day, Mr. Minoso presented the Carrasquel scholarship in front of the players in the Vais Gymnasium.
The day before had been the 63rd anniversary of Mr. Minoso’s debut with the White Sox. He immediately endeared himself as a legend in the eyes of White Sox fans with a 415-foot home run in his first at-bat against the New York Yankees.
Mr. Minoso spoke to the baseball team that day on the virtues of clean living, the value of a good education and the importance of being a good teammate.
Highlights of Mr. Minoso’s career include:
• Lifetime BA of .298
• 17 years in Major League
• Played in 5 decades (1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s)
• Led the American League 10 times in hit-by-pitch
• Led the American League 3 times in stolen bases
• 7-time All-Star
• 3-time Golden Glover
• Most times struck out in a season – 63! Struck out once per 11.3 at-bats and just 584 times in 6579 career at-bats
Men's basketball can't ride out the storm in Region IV semifinal loss
March 3, 2015
Morton College appeared to have weathered a major storm front and looked to become first Illinois Skyway team to advance to the Region IV men’s basketball title game since the format was revamped two years ago.
Things looked promising as the Panthers were able to maintain their 7-point lead the 4½ minutes All-American candidate Nick Dixon sat with four fouls, but a second storm front rolled through as Kishwaukee eliminated Morton College 94-90 in the Region IV semifinals March 1 at Elgin Community College’s Spartan Center.
“We turned it over too many times,” Morton College coach Conte Stamas said. “We just didn’t finish it off. We tried hard, we played hard, we were right there.”
While Kishwaukee wiped out Morton College’s 7-point lead in an 80-second span to go up 87-86 on Juwan Starks’ seventh 3-pointer of the contest with 1:40 left, the Panthers quickly regained their composure and retook the lead when Dixon fed Arran Skinner for a layup. Kishwaukee, however, outscored the Panthers 7-2 the rest of the way.
The Panthers were masterful in overcoming an early 15-5 deficit sparked by the hot shooting of Starks, who made his first 9 shots en route to a game-high 36-point performance.
Morton College, led by Dixon’s 62nd consecutive game in double figures, shot 51 percent for the game and had five players in double figures. With 23 assists on 36 baskets, the Panthers also displayed the solid brand of team ball that helped them win 9 of their last 11 games.
Dixon, who finished as the Panthers’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,622 points, had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. He gave Morton College its biggest lead – 9 points – at two different junctures.
The Panthers’ other two sophomore starters, Devin Harrison and Skinner, closed out their careers on high notes. Harrison had 17 points and 4 assists, while Skinner came up with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Skinner also was responsible for limiting Kishwaukee’s Andre Harris to just 4 points.
Remy Price came off the bench with 13 points and 7 assists, while Tim Washington added 10 points.
Kishwaukee faces Triton in the Region IV final title game Saturday, March 7. Morton College, which had defeated Kishwaukee earlier this season when the Cougars were ranked No. 2 nationally and undefeated, closed at 17-13. It was the sixth time in the last seven seasons Morton College has won 17 or more games.
The Morton College women’s basketball team was ousted in the Region IV semifinals after an 80-41 loss to Kankakee February 28 at Elgin Community College. The Panthers, who advanced after surprising No. 2 seed Moraine Valley, closed 6-25.
Growth of men's basketball evident in rolling of Illinois Valley in rematch
February 27, 2015
On the night when Nick Dixon and Arran Skinner became the third set of teammates in Morton College men’s basketball history to combine for 2,000 points in their two seasons together, it was a time to reflect how the far the Panthers have come as a team in the past two months.
When the Panthers lost Illinois Valley in overtime January 10th, Morton College had only 5 assists. In the rematch, Morton College’s growth was on display with 16 assists on its 34 baskets in rolling to an 84-57 win February 26 in the Region IV quarterfinals at the Henry J. Vais Gymnasium in Cicero.
While it’s great to have a home-run threat like NJCAA Division II leading scorer Dixon in the lineup, it’s also getting dangerous to pitch around the rest of the Panthers. Every night, a different player has stepped up. It’s reflected in the Panthers’ 5-game win streak and 9-2 mark in the last 11 games.
Skinner finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a monster block. He had 13 points in the second half as Morton College outscored Illinois Valley 41-12 in the final 15 minutes and 23-1 over the last 6:46 to turn a nip-and-tuck contest into a runaway.
Devin Harrison (3 assists), Chris Soczek (2 assists) and Chris Hester (4 of 5 from the field) all had 8 points, while Tim Washington added 6. Korey Robinson had just 3 points, but contributed with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Remy Price also had 3 assists, one of three Panthers to do so. Rodrigo Nava added 3 points, including a bank shot early during Morton College’s closing 15-minute surge.
Soczek launched in a 35-footer for a buzzer-beating 3 to end the first half and give Morton College a 33-31 edge. Jerome Stoltz’s 3 capped the scoring for Morton College. All in all, 10 of the 11 players to suit up scored for the Panthers, who received a game-high 26 from Dixon.
The Panthers also took better care of the ball with just 2 of their 10 turnovers coming in the second half. Morton College also shot 55 percent from the field.
“We played better on both ends in the second half,” Morton College coach Conte Stamas said. “We calmed down and made better passes. I think we were a little too cute with our passes in the first half. Arran (Skinner) had a big second half for us. Chris Hester was big off the bench – he did a nice job around the basket. Chris Soczek’s 3 before the half was big.”
PANTHER PATTER: Dixon and Skinner have combined to score 2,040 points. Marvin McGrew and Earnest Mackey are No. 1 at 3,098 points (1988-90), followed by Bill Ledvort and Dave Christ at 2,140 (1979-81).
The Panthers (17-12) advance to face Kishwaukee in the Region IV semifinals at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Elgin Community College. Kishwaukee is 26-5 and ranked 12th in NJCAA D-2. Morton College beat Kishwaukee 86-85 December 13 when the Kougars were 2nd-ranked and undefeated.
Women's basketball stuns Moraine Valley in Region IV playoff opener
February 27, 2015
The Morton College women’s basketball team rolled back into Cicero the conquering heroines and deservedly so acted like it after producing the biggest shocker in the opening round of the Region IV playoffs with a 75-69 win over Illinois Skyway co-champion Moraine Valley February 26 in Palos Hills.
The Panthers entered the contest with a 5-24 record and an 8-game losing streak. Also, Moraine Valley (17-14) had easily handled Morton College 82-59 two weeks earlier.
So it was understandable that the first thing the Panthers, now 6-24 and the seventh seed in District L, wanted to do after knocking off second-seeded Cyclones, is rush back to the Henry J. Vais Gymnasium, where the men’s basketball team was hosting a first-round playoff game of its own, and share the good news.
With the huge smiles the women’s basketball team members flashed upon entering the Vais facility, one could sense something special happened. Art Belanger, the Panthers’ public-address announcer, confirmed it by announcing the score and congratulating the team on advancing to the Region IV semifinals.
The Panthers, who knocked out Moraine Valley in the playoffs on its home floor for the second time in three years, advance to the Region IV semifinals to face No. 3 seed Kankakee at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 28, at Elgin Community College. Kankakee topped Wright 101-27 in its opening-round game.
Despite the Panthers’ 6-24 record, Morton College coach Larry Lanciotti kept seeing snapshots of a team with potential. Morton College had put up 78 points in a 10-point loss to Moraine Valley and dominated from start to finish in a 65-51 win over a solid Prairie State squad.
“We’re a freshman-oriented team,” Lanciotti said. “It’s been hard and frustrating, but tonight they figured it out and played with confidence. They played focus and played together. We had a lot of people contribute.”
One of Lanciotti’s pre-game points of emphasis was to get out to an early lead.
“The more we could keep up with them, the more pressure (Moraine) would feel,” Lanciotti said. “We played like I knew we could.”
Region IV basketball playoffs begin February 26 for Panther squads
February 24, 2015
The Morton College men’s and women’s basketball teams open Region IV Tournament play with quarterfinal contests Thursday, February 26.
The men received the No. 2B seed in District A and host No. 7A Illinois Valley at 7:15 p.m. in the Henry J. Vais Gymnasium on the Morton College campus. The Panthers (16-12), on a four-game winning streak, will be out to avenge a 79-77 overtime loss to Illinois Valley January 10.
The winner advances to the Region IV semifinals against either No. 3A Kishwaukee or No. 6B Prairie State at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Elgin Community College. The title game is at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in Kankakee.
Morton College recovered from a 2-3 start in Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference play to win 8 of its last 9 games to end up tied for second with Lake County at 10-4. Moraine Valley’s win over Elgin on the season’s final day February 19 gave the Cyclones the Skyway’s first undisputed championship since Morton College’s 2011 unit ran the table at 14-0.
Over the past five seasons, Morton College’s 50-20 league record is the Skyway’s best in men’s basketball.
Morton College drew the No. 7 seed in the Region IV District D playoffs. The Panthers are on the road and face a familiar foe in second-seed Moraine Valley, Illinois Skyway co-champions. Game time is 5:15 p.m. at Moraine Valley.
Moraine Valley defeated the Panthers (5-24) in both meetings this season, winning 88-78 January 22 and 82-59 February 12. The Panthers are out to end an 8-game losing streak.
The winner advances to the semifinals against either Kankakee or Wright at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 28, at Elgin. The title game is at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7, in Kankakee.