PEORIA—The first two times Orr coach Lou Adams took teams to Peoria things didn’t go very well. The 2013 and 2014 Spartans were ultra-talented, but came out flat at state.
That was not the case on Friday. Orr dominated Monticello 62-44 in the Class 2A State Semifinals at Carver Arena.
“The difference is that those guys that I had before were very athletic but they didn’t put a lot of work in,” Adams said. “These guys aren’t as skilled but they work very hard. You get out of it what you put into it.”
The Spartans (22-5) jumped out to a 16-4 lead and never looked back.
Junior Dannie Smith, who wasn’t selected for the All-City or All-Area team, continued to prove all the doubters wrong. He led the way with 15 points. Raekwon Drake had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Alex Flute scored 12.
Flute opened the game with a three-pointer, which may have been key. Most teams shot poorly throughout the day at Carver Arena, saying it was difficult to adjust to the college arena. That wasn’t the case for Orr, which was 7-for-18 from three-point range.
“When I played at UIC I shot the ball well,” Flute said. “I just went out there shooting. It helped us get off to a fast start.”
Isiah Florey scored 16 for Monticello (23-6). Calvin Fisher added 12 and point guard Johnny Dawson scored eight.
“We have to take our hats off to Orr,” Monticello coach Kevin Roy said. “That’s a tremendous team, really fast and athletic. We fought and scratched as well as we could. We couldn’t overcome the deficit from the first quarter.”
The Spartans dominated the boards and played unselfishly, assisting on 15 of 23 baskets.
“[Orr’s] defense is phenomenal,” Dawson said. “We wanted to slow the game down but with their defense they sped it up.”
Orr will play Mt. Carmel in the title game on Saturday at 7:15. The Spartans have never won a basketball state championship.
Mt. Carmel has the size to give Orr a challenge, but Adams is confident in his team.
“We watched [Mt. Carmel] that’s a very good team,” Adams said. “But when you are in the Red-West playing Young and Farragut you see the best of the best. I think our bigs are very good and very skilled.”
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