One month ago the doubters were out in force, relishing the chance to proclaim that the king was dead. Morgan Park, the two-time defending Class 3A champs, were 4-3 and had lost to Bloom by eight and Curie by 32. Consider all of that talk extinguished.
Morgan Park beat DePaul Prep 62-56 on Saturday in the inaugural Steve Pappas Shootout. The host Rams, along with Bogan, are the area’s major threats to compete with Morgan Park for the Class 3A title. The Mustangs have now beaten both.
“That incident we had early in the year took our swagger away,” Nick Irvin said. But we are starting to get it back.”
Chicago Public Schools put the Mustangs on probation after an on-court fight during its first game of the season.
“It made us play differently,” Morgan Park junior Adam Miller said. “We thought about softening up. Every Chicago team plays hard. We are getting back to playing hard and having pep in our step and doing what we have to do to win the game.”
Miller scored 16 points and threw some eye-opening assists to the Mustangs’ bigs in the first half.
“Teams are sending four guys at me so the bigs are open every time and I have been hitting them and they come through,” Miller said. “They are getting used to my passes and my style of play.”
Junior guard Marcus Watson scored 15. Kyel Grover, 6-5 senior, scored 13 and grabbed six rebounds and 6-9 senior Karl Jones added eight points and six rebounds.
Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin referred to Morgan Park as “Adam Miller and the four blind mice” earlier this season. Those “mice” have spent the past month improving.
“When Goodie said that it made us come together as a team to prove everybody wrong,” Grover said. “We just have to play well together. Karl works every day after practice. He’s getting better, you can tell. He’s become a rim protector.”
Morgan Park (14-3) led 47-39 after three quarters. The Rams (13-4) cut it to 56-53 on a basket by Raheem Anthony with 1:46 to play. Mustangs senior Isaiah Burrell responded with a layup and then a series of DePaul Prep turnovers ended the threat.
Perry Cowan led the Rams with 22 points. He’s one of the state’s best shooters.
“Shooting in your own gym you are comfortable,” Irvin said. “That is what scared me coming over here. They are a good shooting team and can get hot at any given time.”
Lance Mosley scored 15 for the Rams and Anthony finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
“People are saying that we aren’t as good as we used to be,” Miller said. “Morgan Park isn’t just a star team. That’s not what it is about. We get out and are grimy and play hard.”
Irvin and DePaul Prep coach Tommy Kleinschmidt are legendary Chicago high school players and longtime friends. The shootout matched up five Catholic schools against five public schools.
“It’s hard to win over here,” Irvin said. “[Kleinschmidt] is one of the best coaches in the state and a great friend of mine. They are a very, very good team.”
Tags: DePaul Prep, Morgan Park
Final minute of Morgan Park at DePaul Prep https://t.co/FuMBd80tbL
— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) January 13, 2019