Boys Basketball: Morgan Park set for clash of Public powers
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org March 17, 2014 9:18PM
Morgan Park High School's coach Nick Irvin, left, Charlie Moore (2) and the rest of the Mustang players are all smiles after their sectional championship victory, March 14, 2014.| Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 19, 2014 6:32AM
Morgan Park and Bogan, opponents in Tuesday’s Class 3A Joliet Central Supersectional, are very familiar with one another.
The Chicago Public School powers have played each other three times this season, with Bogan earning two victories.
Some coaches might react negatively to having to play an opponent so often. Don’t count Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin among them.
“It’s always a good thing to know your opponent,” Irvin said. “We both are very familiar with each other. It should make for an exciting game.”
The stakes are much higher in meeting No. 4, though. The winner of Tuesday’s super advances to the state finals Friday in Peoria.
For the Mustangs (20-6), a victory would bring them one step closer to fulfilling their ambition of winning back-to-back 3A state championships.
“I try to tell my players all the time there’s no pressure,” Irvin said. “I try to stay calm (on the sideline) so they don’t panic. It’s very tough to go back-to-back. But we’re just taking it one game at a time.”
The Mustangs likely will have their hands full again with Bogan (27-5). The Bengals are riding high after registering the program’s first-ever sectional championship Friday, clobbering Hyde Park 67-37.
Bogan boasts a dynamic talent in Luwane Pipkins, who scored 32 points against Hyde Park. The 5-foot-10 junior, who has been offered scholarships by DePaul, UMass, UIC, Loyola and Bradley, is averaging 27 points and doesn’t lack confidence.
Irvin is extremely familiar with Pipkins. He plays on Irvin’s AAU team.
“I love Luwane,” Irvin said. “Luwane can bust a game open. They (Bogan) play good, sound defense and they know who their go-to guy is.
Morgan Park, on the other hand, has multiple offensive weapons at its disposal. Josh Cunningham, Lamont Walker and Torry Johnson can fill a basket up in a hurry. Cunningham, at 6-7, can dominate inside the paint or step back and hit a three-pointer. Defensively, the Mustangs boast 6-11 Lamous Brown to add further disruption in the paint.
The key for the Mustangs, however, likely will hinge on the performance of sophomore point guard Charlie Moore, who must make proper decisions and get the big men involved.
“Charlie’s got to lead the way,” Irvin said. “He needs to be solid and keep playing the way he’s been playing.”
The biggest advantage Morgan Park possesses is its senior leadership. Johnson, Cunningham and Walker have been in this position before and are motivated at the prospect of ending their high school careers with consecutive state titles.
“My seniors have won a state title before,” Irvin said. “We have to rebound the basketball and play tough on both ends of the floor. We have to be ready for everything.”