Boys Basketball: Morgan Park rolls past Julian
By Eli Kaberon For Sun-Times Media February 27, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: April 1, 2013 11:51AM
For some teams, the pressure of being favored to win the state championship would be an unwanted burden this time of year. The burden to win sometimes can be too much, causing panic and sloppy play.
Morgan Park still needs six more wins before the Mustangs can cut down the nets in Peoria, but so far, the pressure of being the expected winners of the 3A bracket doesn’t seem to be weighing them down too much. On Wednesday night, the Mustangs barely broke a sweat, crushing host Julian 107-40 in a Class 3A regional semifinal.
“I love that we have the target on our back. It makes our kids play harder and want it even more,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “For us to come out and play like this, I expected it. We’ve been working hard the last two weeks to build up to this. So we were like a tiger being let out of its cage, ready to go and get somebody.”
The No. 1 Mustangs (27-3) started the game on a 19-1 run. Five Morgan Park players finished in double figures in scoring, led by Billy Garrett Jr.’s 20 points and 19 from Charlie Moore.
“Sharing the ball and finding the open man is just huge for our team,” Garrett said. “It means the defense can’t key in on just one guy, so if everyone is scoring, we’re a tough match-up for the opposition. So the more we share the ball, the better we are as a team and the tougher we’ll be to knock out.”
When they weren’t scoring on open jump shots off smart passes, Morgan Park was turning defense into easy offense. The Mustangs had 15 steals in the first half, helping push their lead to 46 points by the time they returned to the locker room at the halftime break.
Defensively, the Mustangs were making life difficult for Julian even when they didn’t record turnovers. The Jaguars had just five points in the first quarter, and didn’t reach a double-figure point total until there was 2:47 remaining in the first half, when a Deandre Bales free throw made the score 56-10.