2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/18/2017 8:53 PM

Morgan Park rallies past Fenwick in OT

Success - Article sent! close
Associated Press

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Morgan Park boys basketball team captured its fourth state championship Saturday by defeating Fenwick 69-67 in overtime for the Class 3A title at Carver Arena.

Trailing 51-40 with five minutes to play, the Mustangs staged a 15-4 rally to force overtime, where three 3-pointers from freshman Nimari Burnett and a pair of clutch free throws by senior Cam Irvin helped secure the program's third title in five years.

Burnett led Morgan Park with 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including a 6 for 10 effort on 3-pointers. Cam Irvin chipped in a dozen points for the Mustangs, with Melo Burrell adding 9 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mustangs (26-6) were without the services of all-state junior Ayo Dosunmu, who was injured in Friday's semifinal win over Springfield Lanphier. But they received scoring contributions from eight different players to outpace the Friars.

"A lot of people doubted us, and a lot of people thought that we couldn't get to this point," said Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin, who guided the Mustangs to state championships in 2013 and 2014. "A lot of people doubted us once Ayo went down and said that we didn't have a team. These guys up here with me showed that we've been a team all year."

Fenwick, which finished the regular season ranked No. 2 behind Morgan Park in the Class 3A state polls, was in control for much of the first half despite shooting just 36 percent (9-for-25) from the floor.

Leading 27-25 at the break, the Friars suddenly found themselves looking up at their opponents after the Mustangs scored the first 7 points of the half to take their first lead since the 5:05 mark of the first quarter.

The lead exchanged hands four more times before Steward buried a jumper just ahead of the buzzer to give the Friars a 42-40 lead heading into the final period.

Fenwick extended its advantage to its largest point at 51-40 on a bucket by Jacob Keller with 5:36 to play, but a 3-pointer by Burnett gave new life to Morgan Park, which embarked on a 15-4 run and had a shot to win at the end of regulation.

With seniors Jamal Nixon and Jacob Keller fouled out for the overtime period, the Friars did all they could to keep pace with Burnett and the Mustangs but were unable to close the gap in time.

"We're very disappointed because we had a chance to win a state championship and just didn't make plays down the stretch," Fenwick coach Rick Malnati said. "We had an opportunity and we let it slip through our hands, and it's hard. It's hard to deal with. It's hard to deal with for me, harder to deal with kids who are 15, 16, 17, 18 years old."

Steward finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-10 shooting for the Friars, who got 14 points from AJ Nixon.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.