Morgan Park’s bigs dominate, send Mustangs to final four

Morgan Park's Lenell Henry (23) backs into North Lawndale's David Forrest (4). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Morgan Park’s Lenell Henry and Melo Burrell demolished visiting North Lawndale in the Public League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The twin towers combined for 22 rebounds as No. 4 Morgan Park cruised to a 73-61 win against the No. 17 Phoenix.

“We scouted them pretty well and knew we could kill them on the boards,” Burrell said. “We are bigger than most everyone in the state.”

Burrell, 6-7, finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds and Henry, a 6-9 senior, had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Mustangs out-rebounded North Lawndale 40-22.

“That’s what we do,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “We’ve been boarding ever since we lost in Baltimore. We’ve been stressing that.”

All five Morgan Park starters scored in double-digits. The Mustangs have traditionally had one or two scorers post 20 plus points, the balanced effort is a new look.

“I had to check myself as a coach, had to say that five players win not just one or two,” Irvin said. “That’s what I’ve been stressing in practice, we need five or six players in double figures. When they double team Ayo [Dosunmu] it leaves everyone open. That strategy isn’t working anymore.”

Dosunmu and Cam Irvin each scored 10 points and sophomore Lamond Johnson had 14.

Henry took a shot to the face early in the third minute of the game from 6-6 Leonard Caples, North Lawndale’s only big.

“Lenell is always ready to rumble,” Irvin said. “He needs to get hit in the mouth a few times to get going. Something just clicks when he gets hit.”

Caples picked up a technical, his third foul of the game. That put him on the bench for the rest of the first half.

“[Caples] was trying to be aggressive with me,” Henry said. “It didn’t work. He was talking but I stayed focused. It fired me up more. I just started hitting the glass even harder.”

Morgan Park (18-4) took control of the game with a 16-0 burst late in the third quarter.

“Sharing the ball and playing good defense was the key to that,” Burrell said.

Carlos Hines led North Lawndale (20-7) with 18 points. Martrell Barnes added 14 points and five rebounds and Steven Ross scored 13.

“Other guys have to step up and rebound,” North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe said. “That was the first thing on the board for us heading into the game. We knew that was going to be a challenge.”

Morgan Park will face Curie in the semifinals at Chicago State on Friday. The Condors beat Orr 62-61 thanks to two clutch free throws by senior Allante Pickens.

Curie and Morgan Park, two of the state’s powerhouse programs, haven’t played each other in the past four years.

“We are similar, both can rebound and shoot it,” Irvin said. “That will be a good game. We haven’t really played anyone as big as us all year.”

Young beat Kenwood 80-58 in the other quarterfinal. The Dolphins will play Simeon in Friday’s semifinals. The city title game is on Sunday night at Chicago State.

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