While the bespectacled Ryan Morton doesn’t grab headlines with high-wire feats of athleticism, Waubonsie Valley’s opponents are wise not to turn a blind eye toward him.

If they do, the 6-foot-2 senior guard may torch them with a reliable 3-point shot.

Indeed, Morton has come a long way from the junior who mostly rode the bench last season, and he’s now starting for a record-setting team.

“He’s just that typical glue guy,” coach Andrew Schweitzer said. “Talk about a kid who maximizes his talent. He flies around, flies out to the perimeter, leads our team in blocks — Ryan Morton.

“The reason he didn’t get time last year was his defense. This year, most of the time he’s in there is for his defense, and obviously, his shotmaking. That’s a credit to him understanding what we do and working his tail off.”

Morton was on target in the early going Saturday, making a pair of 3-pointers that helped stake the Warriors to a 22-21 lead in the first quarter before Bolingbrook rallied to take a 71-56 decision.

It was a much anticipated showdown between two teams certain to draw a top seed at the Class 4A East Aurora Sectional.

It was the first loss of the season for Waubonsie (23-1), despite a career-high 31 points from junior guard Tyreek Coleman, 10 from high-flying senior guard Treshawn Blissett and seven from Morton, who added a pair of blocked shots.

Freshman sensation Davion Thompson scored 26 points to lead Bolingbrook (20-4), which held the Warriors without a basket for a 5:54 stretch covering parts of the third and fourth quarters.

“From a crowd perspective, it was fun with two highly touted teams going back and forth,,” Coleman said. “But we have to get stops and we just weren’t doing that. So for us, it wasn’t fun.”

Waubonsie Valley's Ryan Morton (5) looks for an opening against Neuqua Valley's Luke Pallaschke (10) at home in Aurora on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)
Waubonsie Valley’s Ryan Morton (5) sets up for a shot as Neuqua Valley’s Luke Pallaschke (10) defends during a DuPage Valley Conference game in Aurora on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

Bolingbrook made 19 of 21 free throws, while the Warriors converted 9 of 14.

“We started off horrible on the defensive end,” Blissett said. “That’s very unlike us. We’re a good defensive team. It was uncharacteristic.”

Morton teams up with senior forward Matthew Sessom at the bottom of Waubonsie’s 1-2-2 press, with junior forward Moses Wilson on a wing, joining Blissett and Coleman up top.

“I see everything and try to communicate and be a leader for the defense,” Morton said.

Spotting up outside on offense, Morton confirmed, helps create driving lanes for Coleman, Blissett and Wilson.

“People know I’m a decent shooter so they don’t really help off that much,” Morton said.

This is the last hurrah of playing team sports for Morton, who’s also a pitcher and infielder in the spring for the baseball team.

“He brings leadership,” Blissett said. “He’s just a calming presence on the court with us. He never gets sped up, he’s always under control, almost always in the corner to shoot a three.”

And the black rubber-framed sports goggles he wears seem to have turned Morton into a fan favorite on both sides of the court.

“I think the student section loves it,” Morton said. “The glass or the goggles, as everyone calls ′em. Opposing students like to make fun of me and my glasses. I think it’s pretty cool what people say.

“Not everyone wears ′em, and I’ve never tried contacts.”

Waubonsie Valley's Ryan Morton (5) looks for an open against Neuqua Valley's Whitman Charboneau (11) at home in Aurora on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)
Waubonsie Valley’s Ryan Morton (5) looks for an opening against Neuqua Valley’s Whitman Charboneau (11) during a DuPage Valley Conference game in Aurora on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

And he’s enjoying his ride.

“Going into this year I didn’t expect much, but the summer went well,” Morton said. “I love it, playing on a team with Tyreek, Moses, ‘Tre’ and Matt. It’s always entertaining to watch and be out there, too, seeing those dunks.

“There’s nothing else I can say besides I love it.”

Overall, the Warriors took their first loss this season in stride.

“What is it, Feb. 3?” Blissett said. “And it’s our first time feeling this way. Not many teams can say that, so we should keep our heads high.”

Schweitzer believes his team should bottle that feeling.

“Let it motivate us moving forward,” he said. “I don’t feel any differently about our team after this. I know it sounds lame, but let’s get it off our back now instead of later on.

“We’ll be fine.”

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