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Boys Basketball: Morgan Park coasts to sectional title

Perspectives coach JevMam(right) Morgan Park's Nick Irvembrace after Morgan Park defeated Warriors. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Perspectives coach Jevon Mamon (right) and Morgan Park's Nick Irvin embrace after Morgan Park defeated the Warriors. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 11, 2013 6:39AM



Sitting in the locker room before the game Friday night, Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin offered his team a simple thought.

“Let’s make history tonight,” he said.

Winning the program’s first-ever sectional title, Morgan Park defeated Perspectives Calumet 67-31 Friday in the Class 3A St. Laurence Sectional title game in Burbank.

“We needed to get over this hump to get our ultimate goal (winning state),” Irvin said. “It feels real good right now.”

Kyle Davis scored 22 points and had four steals to lead No. 1 Morgan Park (30-3), which also got double-digit efforts from Josh Cunningham (13 points) and Billy Garrett Jr. (12 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds).

The Mustangs will face Hillcrest, a Friday winner over Rich East, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Joliet Central Supersectional.

Morgan Park has qualified for the state tournament three times, including winning the 1975-76 Class 2A state title, but the Mustangs always advanced as the Public League’s state representative.

“This win means a lot for us, especially winning the first sectional title,” Garrett Jr. said. “No matter what the score, it feels good. We have to get past this though and move on to Tuesday.”

As has been the case so often this season, Morgan Park’s defense provided a spark. The Mustangs scored 14 first-half baskets, 10 of them coming on the fast break off steals and defensive rebounding.

Davis scored six points and Cunningham four as Morgan Park went up 13-3 late in the first quarter.

Keeping the pressure up in the second quarter, the Mustangs reeled off a 14-0 run in just over three minutes to go up 29-6. After a Garrett Jr. fast-break floater and one-handed dunk, Davis punctuated the offensive spurt with a fast-break bucket, his fifth basket in the first half.

“Not many people think that Public League teams play defense, but with this team right here, it’s what we feed off of,” Davis said. “Defense turns into offense. We know we can score on the other end. We just have to lock it down.”

Perspectives Calumet (16-12) committed 15 first-half turnovers, 10 in the second quarter, while shooting just 3-of-25 from the field. The Warriors fell behind 33-8 at halftime.

Brandon Taylor scored 13 points for Perspectives Calumet.

Morgan Park was far from sharp offensively Friday night, but the struggles were relative as the Mustangs’ athleticism proved to be too much at both ends.

“The main focus since Day 1 has been our defense,” Irvin said. “We want to pressure people and get after them. We want to let our defense cause our offense.”

Morgan Park and Hillcrest have faced off in the playoffs the past two years. Hillcrest won last season’s match-up 59-48 in the sectional championship game.



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