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Basketball: Morgan Park in Mac Irvin Classic spotlight

Josh Cunningham Morgan Park | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Josh Cunningham, of Morgan Park | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Mac Irvin
Diabetes Classic

All games Saturday at Larkin High School, Elgin

Bogan vs. Huntley, 1:30 p.m.

Rolling Meadows
vs. Young (girls), 3:15 p.m.

Orr vs. Providence-St Mel, 5 p.m.

Proviso East
vs. St. Viator, 6:45 p.m.

Morgan Park vs. Larkin, 8:15 p.m.

Updated: January 6, 2014 1:00PM

Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin isn’t the type of guy to sit quietly on the sidelines with the feeling that his team is getting snubbed.

The past two years his Mustangs were not invited to play in the Chicago Elite Classic, the national shootout organized by Simeon coach Robert Smith and Young coach Tyrone Slaughter.

The slight isn’t just something in Irvin’s head. His players are angry as well.

“I really don’t like it,” Morgan Park’s Josh Cunningham said. “I think we deserve to be in it. We are one of the top teams in the city and that’s what they are supposed to have in that event. We should have a chance to play in and showcase our talent.”

“I was kind of mad last year that we didn’t get in,” Morgan Park’s Lamont Walker said. “This year, not getting in after we won state really made me mad. I don’t know why they haven’t invited us. Hopefully, when we play Young, Simeon and Curie this year, we can get pay back.”

Irvin couldn’t do anything about the lack of an invite to the Chicago Elite Classic, so he did the next best thing. He created his own high-level shootout and put it on the same day as the CEC.

The Mac Irvin Diabetes Classic, named after Irvin’s father, Mac, a legendary figure in Chicago basketball, will take place Saturday at Larkin. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the American Diabetes Association in the name of Irvin, who died of complications from the disease Dec. 24, 2011, at age 74.

Nick Irvin has set up some interesting counter-programming to the Chicago Elite Classic. A lot of old-school high school basketball fans don’t have any interest in watching local powerhouse teams play out-of-state teams in college arenas.

The Mac Irvin Diabetes Classic will appeal to all of those fans. Irvin’s Morgan Park squad is facing Larkin, one of the state’s up and coming programs at 8:15 p.m. Proviso East and St. Viator, two of the top contenders for the Class 4A state title, will play at 6:45 p.m. Those are two of the best games in the area this season.

Orr plays Providence-St. Mel at 5 p.m. and Bogan plays Huntley at 1:30 p.m. in the first game. Both of those games also are top-notch. The Bogan-Huntley match-up features Bengals guard Luwane Pipkins against Huntley’s 6-7 star Amanze Egekeze, a Belmont recruit.

“It’s going to be big-time basketball in there,” Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. “Hopefully, we do a good job hosting it and make it an annual deal.”

The high-profile tournament lands in Elgin thanks in part to family ties. Mac Irvin was the father-in-law of Carter’s older sister, Corry Irvin.

Corry Irvin, who like her brother is a Larkin graduate and former standout for the Royals, will bring her highly touted Dolphins back to her old stomping grounds to play powerhouse Rolling Meadows at 3:15 p.m. in the second game on Saturday’s slate.

“I told her she better not lose in her old gym,” Carter said.

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